Summit Trio: Helen Hwaya Kim, Robert Henry, and Charae Kreuger (courtesy of Summit Trio)

Summit Piano Trio strikes a romantic tone with Arensky, Dvořák

Summit Piano Trio & Friends
August 22, 2022
Morgan Hall, Bailey Performance Center
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia
Helen Hwaya Kim, violin;Charae Krueger, cello; Robert Henry, piano
Anton ARENSKY: Piano Trio No. 1in D minor, Op. 32
Antonín DVOŘÁK: Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90

Mark Gresham | 26 AUG 2022

Atlanta’s 2022-23 chamber music season officially kicked off on Monday with a performance by the Summit Piano Trio at the Bailey Performance center’s Morgan Hall on the campus of Kennesaw State University. While this may seem early compared to the schedules of other regional ensembles and presenters, it is in line with the fact that KSU’s fall semester of classes began on August 17, so the late summer concert was very much in line with the university’s other activities.

Summit Trio (violinist Helen Hwaya Kin, cellist Charae Kreuger, and pianist Robert Henry) showed itself in excellent form with a pair of late romantic works by Anton Arensky and Antonin Antonín Dvořák, pieces well-suited to their interpretive skills.

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Arensky’s Piano Trio, Op. 32, was composed in 1894 and dedicated to cellist Karl Davidov, director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory when the composer studied there. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the cello part is prominent in the four-movement trio, entirely on par with the importance of the violin part, even though the latter gets the 12-bar opening melodic statement in the first movement. That lyrically elegiac theme set a serotinal mood for the whole work.

The first movement contrasted warm, flowing elements with sudden, passionate outbursts, underscored by an ongoing sense of energy and momentum that hearkened to the piano trios of Mendelssohn.

The cheerful scherzo that followed made for an enticingly lighthearted second movement, while the third was reflective, dreamy, and elegiac — as if the happiness of the preceding scherzo were only a fond memory.

The finale opened dramatically, later recalling themes from the first and third movements, at last climaxing with a turbulent ending restating the movement’s primary theme.

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Witten only three years earlier than the Arensky, Dvořák’s Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90, B. 166 (1891), is among the composer’s best-known works. It is also colloquially called Dumky Trio due to its substantial deviation from the traditional form of a classical piano trio and the composer’s previous three in both formal construction and number of movements, in that it is a set of six dumka.

Dumka, a term originating from the word duma” in Ukrainian, refers to epic ballads, specifically a song that is the lament of a captive people. Composers from other Slavic countries began using the duma in the late 19th century as a classical form. Brooding and introspective, interspersed with more cheerful passages, Dvořák used the dumka as the foundation of this, his final Piano Trio, but also incorporated it in other compositions as well — his Piano Quintet, Op. 81 serves as a good example.

Like with the Arensky, here, too, the Summit Piano Trio performed beautifully and with emotional power, making the entire concert a compelling, convincing start to the new season.

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Mark Gresham

Mark Gresham is publisher and principal writer of EarRelevant. he began writing as a music journalist over 30 years ago, but has been a composer of music much longer than that. He was the winner of an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for music journalism in 2003.