Canadian mega-star violinist, Karen Gomyo, returned to Toronto’s Koerner Hall after a two-year absence, in a newly-formed piano trio that included the Swiss cellist, Christian Poltéra and Finnish pianist, Juho Pohjonen. Thirty-four-year-old Gomyo has been performing with major orchestras in North America and Europe since her youth, and is now striking out on a tour with her husband, cellist Christian Poltéra, and pianist Juho Pohjonen, in search of musical balance and the intimacy of chamber music performance.
The piano trio, yet unnamed, is world-class. Both Poltéra and Pohjonen have notable international careers.
Their virtuosity and brilliant ensemble work combined with Gomyo’s to make the trio more than the sum of its parts. In performances of Haydn, Janacek, and Dvorak, it was as if the three individuals became one instrument. The balance, phrase, shape, dynamics, and precision of this demanding repertoire were all accomplished with the rare sense of one mind. Each of the performers played off each other to communicate a common musical expression.
The program gave each of the performers a chance to demonstrate their musicianship within the context of the ensemble.
In Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 44 in E Major, the main instrument is the piano. Pohjonen’s performance was artfully playful with an understated elegance. Music of Leos Janacek formed the remainder of the first half of the program with his Pohalka for cello and piano followed by the Violin Sonata JW VII/7. Both of these works provided the musicians the opportunity to explore the emotional range of their individual instruments. Poltéra and Gomyo both found the essence of the post-romantic music. The Slavic folk references in Janacek’s scores set up the audience for a thrilling performance of Dvorak’s Piano Trio No. 3 in F Minor Op. 65, the highlight of the evening. This masterpiece of chamber music shows Dvorak to have moved beyond the era of his early Slavonic Dances and to have fully embraced the emotional depth of the music of Brahms with whom he was collaborating. Nevertheless, there are unmistakable references to Dvorak’s Slavic roots that give it a distinct character.
The performance was one of a series of chamber music concerts at Koerner Hall, now in its seventh season of operation. The Royal Conservatory is to be lauded for bringing an eclectic variety of musical genres to the hall and in so doing has indeed transformed the musical landscape of the city. By assembling world-class singers, pianists, orchestras, chamber musicians, and jazz artists, it is opening the ears and minds of Torontonians to a world of great music as performed by some of the world’s finest artists, not always given the attention they deserve. Coming soon are pianists Paul Lewis and Valentina Lisitsa. The 2016/17 schedule includes pianists Lang Lang, Stewart Goodyear, Sir Andras Schiff, and Daniil Trifonov; soprano Deborah Voigt; violinist Gidon Kremer; The King’s Singers, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble and five different jazz trios. For details about concerts at Koerner Hall go to http://www.performance.rcmusic.ca.