On the first Sundays of each month for the past fifteen years, a concert series has raised money for the restoration and maintenance of historic St. Matthias Episcopal Church. The musicians who present these concerts, whether they are amateur or professional, contribute their services. Each year, the Trillium Piano Trio delivers a “First Sunday” concert, featuring skilled amateurs Sue Yingling (piano) and Brent Yingling (violin) together with professional Ron Lambe (cello). For this year’s recital, they presented works by Vivaldi, Mozart and Beethoven.
A Vivaldi “Pastorale” movement opened the program. The brief work is for keyboard and violin contrapuntally with the cello providing a bass continuo.
Next was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Trio No. 6, K. 254, in B-flat major. The work was played in a delicate “drawing room” manner by the strings, while the pianist gave me the sense of operatic tension that I believe is present in virtually all Mozart chamber works. She provided good shaping in both the Adagio and the Rondo, and kept the pulse moving in the Rondo. However, she yielded to the temptation to overpedal at times, which obscured some of the runs in the outer movements.
Ludwig von Beethoven’s Trio No. 7, Op. 97, also in B-flat major, was the big challenge of the afternoon. The first movement Allegro moderato was taken at a slightly relaxed tempo. The sonata allegro structure was kept clear, the articulation was crisp, and the results were good. The Scherzo had a few rocky moments when the players got out of sync. By overemphasizing an entry, the cellist pulled them back into a coordinated unit before things got out of hand. The third movement, a glorious Andante cantabile, was the most satisfying. The final movement was less fortunate. The piano’s long trills were not distinct; the cello’s intonation went seriously awry during a late solo passage, and the violin was not sufficiently commanding in its showcase passages.
Brent Yingling plays with intelligence, technique and very good intonation, but his sound is small. Sue Yingling chose to crack the cover of the piano only by the width of a hymnal, presumably to keep the Conover grand piano from overpowering the violin. I would have preferred that the cover was at least on the short stick in order to project the tone more freely, and that the players modulate their volume by other means.
These Mozart and Beethoven trios are substantial works central to the classical literature for piano trio, and the Trillium Trio is to be thanked for giving us the opportunity to experience them once again. You can’t hear these seminal works too often.