by Kevin McLaughlin
On February 6, the Butler Piano Trio (Sandy Yamamoto, violin, Joshua Gindele, cello, and Colette Valentine, piano), treated the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church audience to a compelling evening of generous and potent music making.
Abundantly evident in the performance of Rachmaninoff’s Trio élégiaque No. 1 — a cohesive single-movement work written when the composer was just nineteen — was the Butlers’ special chemistry. The group seemed to exhibit an extrasensory awareness of shared phrasing, expression, and rhythmic timing. Valentine managed Rachmaninoff’s virtuosic piano writing with ease, trading iterations of the elegiac theme with the strings in powerful combination. Three instruments were present onstage, but the music seemed to emit from a single voice.
Beethoven’s Trio in D, Op. 70, composed in 1808, is nicknamed “Ghost” for its eerie Largo movement. According to the unsigned program notes, Carl Czerny thought it evoked Hamlet’s meeting with the ghost of his father, but it was in fact part of Beethoven’s sketch for a never-completed Macbeth opera. The Butlers’ performance was taut and aptly unnerving. In the dramatic Largo the group relentlessly pressed the repeated rhythmic figure (triplet and sixteenths), conjuring a doomed march imposed by a spectral martinet. [Read more…]