The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, in its thirty-eighth year of music-making, appeared in this season of The Friends of Chamber Music, playing Beethoven, Shostakovich, and Brahms.
Having debuted at President Carter’s inauguration festivities in 1977, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio has existed almost as long as the Friends of Chamber Music series—it was only fitting, then, that the Trio, devoted to chamber music for thirty-eight years, participate in the fortieth year of a series that champions that repertoire. The Trio demonstrated a mastery and ease of communication that could only have been a product of decades of collaboration, and its performance of Beethoven, Shostakovich, and Brahms was a very satisfying installment in The Friends of Chamber Music season.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Trio, 14 Variations in E-flat Major, Op. 44, is a early work, filled with youthful energy, able to enliven an unmelodic theme, originally from a Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf opera. The communicative abilities of the Trio were formidable, and, although the performance was not without its bumps, the three musicians expertly navigated the ebb and flow of the music. Pianist Joseph Kalichstein showed particular dexterity in this regard, especially during the rather exposed statement of the theme, all in unison, at the beginning of the piece.
The Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67, of Dmitri Shostakovich plunges into the depths of human grief and suffering—especially appropriate after the difficult week in world events. Cellist Sharon Robinson, tasked with the opening theme of the first movement, played expressively and comfortably in what is normally an uncomfortably high register for the instrument. While Jaime Laredo, the group’s violinist, played with great energy and stamina, his tone lost focus during the second movement of the Shostakovich, an ironic scherzo with fast lines and false hopes.
After the intermission came Johannes Brahms’s Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8, which he revised later in life. In this piece, the Trio combined honed communicative skills with a superb individuality of line and expression, creating a performance that, while grounded and controlled, always bubbled with vitality. It was this special combination of talent and musicality that created a truly exciting performance on Saturday evening.