Music Review: Eggner Trio at the Austrian Embassy

June 16, 2011

Straight from Vienna, the Eggner Trio played for a packed house Wednesday at the Austrian Embassy. Formed in 1997, the group consists of three brothers — pianist Christoph, violinist Georg and cellist Florian. From beginning to end, the concert proved an exhilarating event as the three moved from trios by Haydn and contemporary Austrian composer Johannes Berauer to Dvorak’s Op. 65, No. 3. Through all of these, the Eggners were a firmly knit, balanced ensemble.

The piano dominates the Haydn opener, the trio Hob. 27, ushering in main themes strung out in cascades of zippy passagework. The strings joined in for a zesty romp through what seemed harmonically uncharted territory, always keeping sight of Haydn’s diaphanous textures. This composer also calls for some cantabile treatment, especially in the Andante, yet on Wednesday one wished for more attention to graceful melodiousness.

Berauer’s Piano Trio No. 1, new this year, is a skillful, even challenging, piece that fits comfortably into the conservative camp of today’s neo-romantic tendencies, though modified by jazz elements. Berauer explores the idiomatic possibilities of each instrument. His piece is tightly constructed and well ordered, giving it a certain inevitability. (Interestingly, its angular melodic lines and polytonal harmony seem to touch on the style of Paul Hindemith, an iconic composer of the mid-20th century.) And dissonances eventually are resolved in the Berauer piece rather than left in midair. Occasionally, the Eggners lingered pensively on Berauer’s brief moments of long, sustained phrases. Otherwise, Christoph made the most of the percussive possibilities of the keyboard while the strings reinforced his capricious abandon.

The Dvorak trio capped the performance with the composer’s typical robust amalgam of rustic Czech folk-dance rhythms and Brahms-like emotional fervor and harmonic language. As in the Haydn, the string solos remained impassioned rather than sweet in tone.

All in all, this ensemble plays with conviction, cohesiveness and commanding energy. One looked only for a bit of relief from the outpouring of hyper-impassioned adventurousness, perhaps leaving some moments for quiet reflection present in this music.

Porter is a freelance writer.

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