Montrose Trio gets new Cleveland Chamber Music Society season off to lively start (review)

Montrose Trio
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tuesday night saw an auspicious start to the Cleveland Chamber Music Society's 2016-17 season, with a performance by the relatively new Montrose Trio.

For their program at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, the trio played works by Turina, Beethoven, and Brahms. Turina's Trio No. 2, written in 1933, bears all the hallmarks of the composer's mature style: a piquant combination of Romantic sweetness, points of chromatic interest, organic structural development and, of course, flashes of Spanish temperament.

The Turina was a fine introduction to the sterling qualities of the performers. Violinist Beaver displayed a remarkably beautiful tone and a finely tuned sense of phrasing, while cellist Greensmith revealed an almost vocal quality to his playing, which brought an extra measure of interest to an instrument that can often be subsumed in a trio setting.

Pianist Parker showed himself to be nimble, witty and delightfully interactive, never allowing the piano to overwhelm the stringed instruments, an ever-present danger in chamber music.

Beethoven's striking Op. 1, a set of trios from 1795, finds the young composer already master of form and expression, taking the trio innovations of Haydn and Mozart a few steps further. Witty banter, unexpected musical ideas, and high spirits are the hallmarks of the E-flat trio of the set.

Brahms' Trio No. 1 in B major requires a different sort of approach. Written in 1854, when the composer was just 21, the trio was heavily revised in 1889, retaining themes but reworking development of them in wholly new ways (and, along the way, smoothing over some of the composer's youthful rough patches)..

As a result, Brahms works his players hard, with big, often widely-spaced chords from the piano, and passionate statements from the strings. The Montrose Trio rose to the occasion, collectively producing a big sound that suggested a much larger ensemble. The challenges of the work are great, but the players met them with aplomb, and not a little sweat equity as well.

At the end of the concert, the Montrose Trio returned to the stage for an encore. "What would a trio concert be without a little Haydn?" Parker asked, beforethe players launched into a brilliant performance of a lightning-fast finale from one of Haydn's trios.
Read the rest of the review here