The Horszowski Trio, formed only in 2011, made a strong local debut Sunday at the Phillips Collection. They began with a rarity, Shostakovich’s Op. 8 trio, written when he was just 17. This one-movement work, subtitled “Poeme” was an adolescent love offering to a girl, but in between the (too frequent) repetitions of the gooey main theme can be found in many of the quirky, sardonic ideas that came to dominate the music of his maturity.
While one cannot compare this work to Shostakovich’s stunning Op. 67 trio, it is worthy of many more performances than it receives.Other than some impure intonation between the strings in octave passages, the playing was expert and vigorous.
In a completely different (transparent) sound-world, that of Mozart’s K. 502 trio, the Horszowski’s qualities came into better focus.They are three fine instrumentalists who listen and interact at a high level.The performance had a number of carefully prepared nuances, which will, I’m sure, eventually sound spontaneous as they play together more.
Pianist Reiko Aizawa handles most balance problems (always the biggest concern in this genre) quite well; playing with the lid on a full stick, she nonetheless gave her colleagues room to play softly.This sometimes came at the expense of clarity, and there were spots in the Mozart where her ornaments and short runs were a little breathless. Cellist Raman Ramakrishnan took too much advantage of the sonic space Aizawa gave him. His solos were all wispy and delicate where they should have projected more. Violinist Jesse Mills left the strongest impression; his phrasing was consistently the most musical, and he drew a wider range of color than did Ramakrishnan.
The final work, Dvorak’s F minor Trio, was largely a success. Apart from some mushy passage work from Aizawa in the scherzo, all the details were carefully prepared and presented with ardor and conviction, again lacking only the feeling of spontaneity that the finest artists convey.One would not expect a group together for less than two years to sound like the Beaux Arts Trio, and the Horzowski doesn’t. But these fine young musicians have the goods to become an ensemble of real stature.
Battey is a freelance writer.