CZECH TALES; opening concert of 5@1st Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell

The opening concert of the 5 at the First season was entitled Czech Tales, featured  the
AYR Trio;  comprised of Angela Park, piano, cellist Rachel Mercer, plus Yehonatan Berick, violin; playing music of Dvorak and Smetana.  The afternoon began with an Hungarian piece, ‘Scenes de la Czarda No.4’ by Jeno Hubay a noted teacher, violinist and composer who taught the teacher of Berick, who then called him his ‘grand teacher’.  This was performed by Julian Kwon, a young violinist from Oakville who is currently the concertmaster of the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

Berick, Park & Mercer – The AYR TRIO

Kwon is a self assured performer who obviously enjoyed playing this difficult and lively gypsy dance demonstrating excellent control and maturity.  It was a well executed beginning to an afternoon of exceptional musicianship.
The AYR Trio then performed the well known Piano Trio No. 4 Op. 90 in e minor ‘Dumky’ by Antonin Dvorak.  A dumka was a Slavonic folk ballad which Dvorak used to show a melancholic slow idea contrasted with sections of a faster dance-like character.  It is a piece in six movements of which the last two are the most popular.  The first movement is a marvelous intertwining of melancholy and longing with drama and playfulness which should be heard much more often.   All six movements are very different approaches to the same thing, but they cohere as a tremendous whole.  This is a consummate composer at work and it was played by brilliant musicians.  Many thought this the treat of the afternoon.
After intermission a cello solo work  by Jana Skarecky, who was in the audience and introduced the work, was played by Mercer.  It was based on a Czech chorale about an inner fight From Fear to Courage and was well received by the audience.  The final offering was Piano Trio in g minor Op 15 by Bedrich Smetana.  This was composed at a very low point in Smetana’s life, just after three of his four daughters had died, including his eldest who had shown signs of being a musical prodigy.  The work is in three movements and they all show deep melancholy and sadness, but all are ultimately overcome by an unstoppable urge to life.
The Finale. Presto has the piano playing single notes as if to question life and the response is overwhelmingly in life’s favor.   The almost capacity audience gave a well deserved standing ovation to the Trio for an afternoon of wonderful music.  Next concert is Jan 4

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