Very seldom does one have the privilege to witness the congruity of an ensemble such as the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, a group that has collaborated since the 1970s. Not only have the performers mastered the technique and artistry of their respective instruments, they played with maturity and the collective refinement that only comes from performing together for many years.
The Johnny Carson Theatre was ample size for the performance, which was sponsored by the Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music and featured works by Russian greats Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. The world-renowned trio featured pianist Joseph Kalichstein, violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson.
The dark-and-brooding single-movement Trio élégiaque, No. 1 in G minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff opened the concert. Despite some early balance issues with the piano, the group recovered well — the first clear sign of their musical expertise. Of particular note was the expressive singing vibrato of the cellist and lovely cohesive phrases that ended superbly.
An impossibly difficult cello solo, which was comprised of lonely high-pitched harmonics, opened the Shostakovich Trio No. 2 in E Minor and was flawlessly executed by Robinson. Anguish, despair and pain were contrasted against rustic folk-like dances that culminated in a “dance of death,” complete with spicatto effects (achieved by “bouncing” the bow off the strings) between the violin and cello parts, which were meticulously in alignment.
Last on the program was Tchaikovsky’s monumental Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50. Emphatic outbursts from the piano contrasted with utmost Romantic lyricism in the first movement. The second movement’s theme and variations had a great sense of musical architecture building to a fugue that highlighted supremely clear entrances of each subject. A haunting funeral march concluded the piece, leaving the audience silently captivated.
The group was warmly received with a standing ovation and two curtain calls for its performance, which epitomized excellence, united through wisdom and maturity.