Mark Gresham | 18 APR 2019
On Wednesday evening, the Summit Piano Trio – violinist Helen Hwaya Kim, cellist Charae Krueger and pianist Robert Henry performed a richly Romantic program of music by Arensky and Brahms at the Bailey Center for the Arts in Kennesaw, some 22 miles northwest of midtown Atlanta.
All three are part of the music faculty at KSU. Kim and Krueger are also members of The Atlanta Opera Orchestra, which had rehearsals for La traviata earlier in the day, so they had already been through a full day of playing behind them. Nevertheless, the three performed splendidly. Kim and Krueger are both players with energy and strength of tone, which also made it possible for Henry to play with a full-bodied manner and still retain good balance with them.
Kim, Krueger and Henry opened their concert with the Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32 by Russian composer Anton Arensky. Because Arensky’s music isn’t heard nearly as often as that of Brahms, whose Piano Trio No. 1 in B minor, Op. 8, was paired with it on Wednesday’s program, it is interesting that another group, Riverside Chamber Players, had also played the Arensky back in March for their final concert of the season.
But in this context, Arensky’s Trio No. 1 was also interesting because of its observable parallels with that of Brahms. Both share essentially the same overall classical structure: A pair of Allegros for the outer movements, a blithe Scherzo for the second movements – both of which make extensive use of ricochet bowing by the violin and cello – and slow, elegiac third movements that were poignantly melodic.
Brahms originally wrote his in 1854 when he was only 20 years old, but revised it extensively in 1889. Arensky completed his five years later, in 1894. Despite the similarities of form and expression, these two Trios are hardly twins by any means, but what they share as kindred spirits is enough that putting the two on the same program offered a great opportunity for the listener to benefit from the enlightened comparison, especially when performed so well. ■