The musicians of the Madison Trio are an admirable combination of superb technicians and artists sensitive to the requirements of a wide variety of compositions. In their Phillips Collecion concert yesterday afternoon, they divided Beethoven's "Ghost" Trio, Op. 70, from the F Minor Trio by Dvorak with Joseph Schwantner's Autumn Canticles.
To play the Beethoven, with its central, mysterious movement surrounded by the power and dash of the outer passages requires mature musicianship. This was eloquently present. Schwantner's five-sectioned work, inspired by Chinese poems, dates from 1974. Heard yesterday in its Washington premiere, it offers the listener no serious difficulties, although it is less accessible than more recent works in which the comoser made the deliberate decision to write music that his hearers might find immediately approachable.
Much of the time it is highly fragmented -- an evanescent kind of sound, often heard in slender tendrils of whispered sonorities exuding a delicate perfume that from time to time turns slightly pungent. The violin, cello and piano are handled by the composer with consummate art, as they were yesterday by Philip Setzer, David Finckel, and Antonia Adezio.
Dvorak's F Minor Trio is all too often passed over in favor of its more familiar "Dumky" sibling. But there are beauties in this work of rare haunting poetry. The sound of Setzer's violin echoing Finckel's cello at the beginning of the slow movement was one of many exquisite moments during the concert, while Adezio's piano offered fine, big sound where it was appropriate.