Violinist Jesse Mills, cellist Raman Ramakrishnan, and pianist Rieko Aizawa have known each other for years, but two years ago they made their friendship official by founding the Horszowski Trio. On Saturday, the trio debuted in the final concert of the 64th season of the Friends of Chamber Music series at Emma Willard’s Kiggins Hall.
It was an auspicious debut.
The three individually have had substantial careers either as soloists or chamber musicians. Yet, even with their backgrounds and personal relationship, that is no guarantee that a trio might work. Somehow, only the best came to the fore. Their standards are so high and their musical conversation so intimate that the results were consistently superlative. Their sound is elegant, precise, and crystalline. Their immaculate techniques easily handle every demand. Balances were marvelously even.
They presented a program that featured tenor Matthew Anderson in one of the works. The concert began with Haydn’s Trio No. 39 in G Major (1795). The three movements were sweetly lyrical with every note cleanly enunciated and each phrase sculpted with precision. Nothing was overdone. The famous finale with its gypsy rhythms was speedy and light. Anderson was the soloist in Ned Rorem’s difficult “The Auden Poems” (1969). Almost without exception, the lyrics were distressing, dark, ironic and pessimistic. One wonders what made them appealing to Rorem. For all that, he did an exceptional job capturing the lyrics’ moods and often their intent. Anderson sang with a full, well regulated voice that was almost a baritone. His diction was as exceptional as the job he did navigating the huge range spaced over extremely abstract lines in the seven songs.
Although the trio provided excellent support, balances in the louder sections overwhelmed Anderson — despite his having a big voice. This was most apparent in the first song (“The shield of Achilles”), whose opening was so violent, frenetic and with such shockingly disturbing lyrics that it seemed to reflect the horror at the Boston Marathon. The audience, however, appreciated the effort and gave them a standing ovation.
Much more accessible, romantically dramatic and beautiful was Dvorak’s Trio in F minor (1883). Every part was interesting and the trio played in complete synchronization. Mills soared, Ramakrishnan used a dark, lush tone, and Aizawa (who was Mieczyslaw Horszowski’s last pupil and for whom the trio is named) was fleet, light, and finished. They mined the four movements’ wealth of ideas with great imagination and a marvelous ebb and flow that produced exquisite results. Although they received a standing ovation, there was, alas, no encore.