Tempest Trio creates electrifying storm at Four Arts in Palm Beach

By Lawrence Budmen

The Tempest Trio offered an afternoon of bracing, high-wire chamber music performances Sunday afternoon at the elegant auditorium of Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach. Pianist Alon Goldstein, violinist Ilya Kaler and cellist Amit Peled are all distinguished soloists, and collectively they ignited a musical fuse, producing refreshingly untraditional interpretations of repertoire both rare and familiar.

In the latter category Ernest Bloch’s Three Nocturnes proved a riveting opener. Written in 1924 around the same time as the composer’s classic Concerto Grosso No.1 for strings and piano, the Nocturnes abound in mercurial changes of mood and tone, spanning several stylistic crosscurrents. The quasi-Impressionism of the opening Andante is followed by a scintillating outpouring of song reminiscent of Faure. Nervous, astringent rumblings that echo Bartok and Hindemith open the final Tempestoso before a reprise of the Gallic-tinged theme of the second movement brings the work to a restrained conclusion. Generous of tone, Peled was particularly distinctive in the expressive cello solo of the second Nocturne.

A robustly assertive performance of Schumann’s Piano Trio No.1 in D minor brought the individual players’ strengths to the fore. Goldstein is an old-school bravura virtuoso with a touch of the poet. Kaler, who has extensively recorded much of the sonata and concerto repertoire, spins silken toned phrasing with seasoned collaborative skills although his sound can turn wiry under pressure. Peled is a cellist of exceptional elegance and lightness of touch in the manner of Paul Tortelier or Pierre Fournier.

The threesome brought demonic excitement to the scherzo of the Schumann trio rather than the courtly landler-like strophes of many performances. A sense of mystery pervaded the Langsam, rendered without sugary affectation. A rousing aura of triumph propelled the intensely stated finale with Goldstein pulling out all the stops in a fire breathing coda. Schumann’s 1847 opus emerged freshly minted in an exciting performance by three gifted artists who are not afraid to take interpretive risks.

An incisive, energetic reading of Dvorak’s familiar Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor (Dumky)  was alive to the rollicking Czech dance rhythms without slighting the sentiment and anguished yearning beneath the score’s gleaming surface. Peled’s aristocratic shaping of the long limbed musical line dominated the elegiac Andante moderato. Kaler played the Czech country fiddler, perhaps too much at times, to Goldstein and Peled’s classical refinement. Nevertheless it was wonderful to hear a performance that so brightly conveyed the score’s impetuous mood swings, alternately vivacious and haunting. Indeed the music seemed to leap off the page in this high-voltage rendition.

Following prolonged applause from an unusually quiet and attentive audience,  the Tempest players offered an exquisite version of the second movement of Beethoven’s Trio No.1. Goldstein’s more sensitive instincts were vividly displayed in this beautifully balanced performance, marked by gently sustained lyricism.

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Mon Dec 14, 2009
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