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Here’s To You, Mrs. Robinson

New York
Tisch Center for the Arts
09/12/2000 -  
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Trio in B Flat Major
Richard Danielpour: A Child’s Reliquary
Johannes Brahms: Trio in B Major

Joseph Kalichstein (piano)
Jaime Laredo (violin)
Sharon Robinson (cello)

Around twenty years ago I first became attracted to the music of the KLR trio because of the broadly expansive tone of Sharon Robinson, whose large and burnished sound so perfectly suits the writing of the young Brahms. Last night’s trio is vintage early Brahms, the boy genius whom Schumann interrupted in his own piano salon so that he could call Clara in to hear this “new Messiah”. The pure joy of Ms. Robinson’s playing reflects the youth and vigor of the young man from Hamburg so perfectly that now, so many years later, the performances of the KLR which delve into this Romantic repertoire are the most evocative in this most musical of cities. Each member of the trio is a fine artist in their own right and I have written before about each in turn (I will be hearing Mr. Laredo in the Bruch Concerto in Philadelphia later this season) but thought some special praise was now in order for this extremely emotive cellist. As a unit, KLR is the tightest imaginable, so aware of each other’s moves that, although they are not wind players, they actually breathe together. Intelligence and inspired listening are also prominent in their presentations, as witnessed last evening by their elimination of any significant pause between movements two and three of the Brahms, emphasizing the phenomenon that the last note of the second movement is actually the leading tone to the tonic of the first note of the third and, played without time to allow the audience to cough, sounds like one continuous movement fulfilling the most basic of human emotional needs in the unique language of tonality. Ms. Robinson’s solos in the third movement were incredibly beautiful and set the tone throughout for a wonderful evening of music making.

Richard Danielpour seems to be everywhere in New York these days. A glance at the current season shows that he is programmed considerably more than, say, Bruckner and this is explained by the easy “listenability” of his music. However, his pieces are cloying and sickly sweet and last night’s lollipop was so sugary that I feared for some of the 92nd Street Y’s elderly patrons going into diabetic coma. A student composer at Mr. Laredo’s day job (the Manhattan School of Music) recently unveiled a piece entitled The Music in the Elevator on the Way to Hell and I thought of this title often as I suffered through this compilation of quasi-Impressionistic treacle. Too much sugar is indeed bad for you, as Schumann loved to point out in his marvelous critical writings, but the Y membership, which touts itself as the “best audience in New York”, did not respond enthusiastically to this ear candy. Mr. Danielpour was on hand to receive his smattering of applause, but this button-pushing confection received no more of an ovation than would a piece of aleatory music or serialism. Both Mozart and Brahms, neither of whom was able to attend in person, received considerably more praise from this sage assembly.

Last season was the 25th anniversary of the KLR at the Y and was celebrated with a round of terrific concerts. Now in just another year, what does the group do for an encore? Continually thrill us with solid and intelligent performances like the suitably lightly-touched Mozart and we will be eminently satisfied. Imagine what a great season their 50th will be!

Frederick L. Kirshnit



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