Diaz Trio brings brilliance and panache to Mozart, Beethoven

By Inesa Gegprifti

The Diaz Trio performed Thursday night at Temple Beth Am for Friends of Chamber Music of Miami.

The Diaz Trio performed Thursday night at Temple Beth Am for Friends of Chamber Music of Miami.

Friends of Chamber Music of Miami continued their 62nd concert season with a performance by the Diaz Trio Thursday evening at Temple Beth Am. 

As one of the few string trios with a professional career in the United States, the Diaz Trio has garnered national acclaim for performances of the highest artistic quality. Individually, violinist Andrés Cárdenes, and the brothers violist Roberto Diaz, and cellist Andrés Diaz have also established impressive solo and orchestral careers. 

The program featured two iconic works as two sides of the same coin, Beethoven’s String Trio Op. 3 in E-flat Major and Mozart’s Divertimento K. 563. Beethoven wrote his first string trio at the age of 23 after having moved to the aristocratic, salon city of Vienna and modeled this six-movement work on Mozart’s Divertimento in the same key, written only 3 years before the composer’s passing. 

While the string trio setting may have been popular in chamber music circles in the Classical period, nowadays it is rare to hear such an ensemble in live concerts. In a nod to his source of influence, in this composition Beethoven remains mostly within the classicist idiom. 

However, his boundary-bending character is evident in the highly syncopated opening theme, the luscious Adagio, and the deceptive rhythmic articulation of the first Menuetto. 

The Diaz Trio embraced the stark dynamic and character changes with clarity of tone, excellent stylistic display, and cohesive chamber musicianship. Although the resonant acoustic of the hall is not favorable for string instruments, blurring much of the attacks, the trio projected the syncopations in the Allegro con brio with conviction and energy. As the melody travelled from one instrument to the other in the Andante, the trio retained similarity of inflection and fluency of phrasing, while bringing out their individual timbres. 

While the first Menuetto has a quirky rhythmic character as all three beats are not always heard, its peculiarity is gracefully juxtaposed with the cantabile trio section. Cárdenes’ and Roberto Diaz’s well-matched vibrato and bow control provided a contrasting texture to the pizzicati of the cello. 

The expansive Adagio brought out the ensemble’s ability to build up on the drama with intensity and gently float on the soaring lyrical melodies. The last two statements of the theme were intimate, with gorgeous tone production and dynamic control. The more traditional and grounded second Menuetto was followed by a driven, contrapuntal Finale. The Diaz Trio blazed through the canonic and unison passages with tight ensemble work and their fiery playing projected as if there was an orchestra on stage. 

The second half opened with the rather calm first measures of Mozart’s Divertimento, which quickly shift to bright scalar passages propelling the music forward displaying his melodic inventiveness and character portrayal. 

The Adagio showcased the trio’s richness of tone and expressive interpretation. They sustained the musical tension through the suspensions with intensifying vibrato and phrasing. Simplicity and sophistication prevailed in the Andante and its variations through the gentle gestural exchanges in the minor variation and the elevated energy of the last one. 

The fifth movement undulated between the processional stateliness of the Menuetto and the youthful grace of the waltz rhythm in the trios. The final movement, somewhat reminiscent of Vivaldi’s string writing, evoked the brightness of spring in the lilting rhythmic underlay and the high-octane virtuosic passages. Throughout the evening, the Diaz Trio provided a performance imbued with musical maturity, brilliance, and panache.

The next concert in this season of Friends of Chamber Music is the piano recital of Stephen Hough 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 6 at Temple Beth Am. miamichambermusic.org

Posted in Performances

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Fri Nov 17, 2017
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