Diaz Trio presents a distinctive evening of chamber music

By Lawrence Budmen

Antonín Dvořák's Piano Quartet No. 2 was performed Monday night at FIU by pianist Andre Laplante and the Diaz Trio.

The Diaz Trio and pianist Andre Laplante joined forces for a sterling program of Beethoven and Dvorak, presented by the Friends of Chamber Music Monday night at Florida International University’s Wertheim Auditorium.  A felicitous combination of interesting repertoire and four outstanding musicians giving their considerable best forged music-making both intimate and distinctive.

The String Trio in E-flat, Op. 3 is the work of the twenty-four year old Beethoven. Not yet the revolutionary titan, Beethoven conceived a score to charm and entertain. Still there are hints of the master to come. The melody of the Adagio is a sublime creation and the stormy minor-key episode in the finale exudes considerable power. Beneath the score’s lightness,  there is considerable melodic, harmonic and contrapuntal invention.

The players did full justice to this lovely six-movement work. From the outset, the silvery tone and agility of violinist Andres Cardenes carried the performance.  Cardenes’s command of Beethoven’s ornamental filigree and eloquent line and phrasing elevated the score to a higher level. His two colleagues matched his exceptional musicianship. In the trio section of the Allegretto, violist Roberto Diaz and cellist Andres Diaz dispatched the intricate figuration deftly, their interplay with Cardenes seamless. After the serenity of the Adagio, the final two movements were played with robust energy, the blend of instrumental timbres always richly luminous and beautiful.

Dvorak’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat, Op.87 is roughly contemporaneous with the Czech master’s Eighth Symphony. The opening movements’ depth and rich harmonic palette are symphonic and the players produced a sonority to match. By turns lyrical and tempestuous, the music surged with mounting power and inevitability. The deep tone and long-limbed flow of Andres Diaz’s cello solo in the Lento propelled the Brahmsian warmth of this inspired moment.

Laplante is a formidable keyboard artist. He has power to spare but holds it in reserve. The pearly tone and sensitivity of his pianism rarely calls attention to itself, blending cohesively and subtly with his string colleagues. In the spaciously shaped Allegro moderato grazioso, Laplante assayed the arpeggiated melodic pattern with lightness of touch and infusive color; yet he commanded the fiery rhetoric of the central section with bravura to spare.  That interlude of unbridled Czech dance found the ensemble playing at full throttle, stirring breathless excitement.

Roberto Diaz’s impressively sonorous viola solo launched the finale, exuding brightness and verve. As the theme was alternatively tossed between the instruments, the musicians took full advantage of their solo opportunities but never at the expense of the ensemble effort.

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Tue Dec 20, 2011
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