August 2014 Convention
Chicago, IL

Trios Anyone?

Who says three’s a crowd? Friday’s “Trios Anyone?” concert, with its blend of historic and modern chamber music, made three seem like the perfect number. The concert opened with J.S. Bach’s Trio Sonata in G Major, BWV 1039, performed by Lee Lattimore and Na’ama Lion on Baroque flute and Shalev Ad-El on harpsichord. In four movements, this work beautifully illustrates Bach’s whimsy, solemnity, and fire. The performers expertly blended the sibilant sounds of their wooden instruments throughout the piece, from the closely written lines of the flowing first movement, through the complexity and canon of the second movement, into the third movement, where broken chords created a mysterious texture. During the final presto, most of the audience were bobbing their heads with the rollicking pace of the music. It was Bach in a nutshell—suspensions and mystery, complexity and dancing.

Lowell Liebermann’s Night Music, Op. 109 was performed by Rebecca Johnson, flute, Magie Smith, clarinet, and Cara Chowning, piano. From the first note, I was struck by the seamless tonal blend and excellent intonation between the flute and clarinet. The composition flowed forward in consonant waves, at once sounding both very American and very much like the work of Franz Schubert. The standout ensemble between the performers made a slow and dreamy piece of music extremely exciting to hear.

Heidi Pintner Alvarez and Tammy Evans-Yonce with pianist Don Speer.

Heidi Pintner Alvarez and Tammy Evans-Yonce teamed up with pianist Don Speer for Into the Blue, by Michael Kallstrom. The music relied heavily on ostinato and rhythmic repetition, but the repetition built energy and excitement through the performance, which was driven by Alvarez and Evans-Yonce’s clear, singing, well-matched tone quality and tight ensemble.

Amy Likar and Rena Urso-Trapani played flute, alto flute, and piccolo with pianist Miles Graber for Daniel Felsefeld’s Blister and Wow. By program’s most abstract work, it reminded me of the end of a relationship. In the first movement, Things We Talked About, the flutists engaged in a conversation that was more like an argument, with the piano interjecting, playing the role of marriage counselor. The second movement, Secret Minuet and Secret Trio, presented a softer sound and slower tempo, as if the combatants were remembering a happier time, until repeated motives spiraled at the end of the movement—the return of an old argument. The final movement, Things We Thought About, returns to the strident texture of the beginning, but with consonant harmony. Throughout, Likar and Urso-Trapani’s playing was gorgeous, on each instrument. They managed all the changes of size and timbre with dexterity, and their blend, pitch, and musicality were remarkable, especially considering the music’s demands.

So who says three’s a crowd? No one in the audience this afternoon!

—Jessica Dunnavant

photo by Jessica Dunnavant