A sizable contingent of Washington's Korean community flocked to the Kennedy Center friday evening to hear three celebrated siblings, Kyung-Wha Myung-Wha and Myung-Whun Chung, who took time out from their respective solo careers to form a rather admirable trio. The concert, which was sponsored by the United Korean Presbyterian Church, contained fairly standard fare, but the musicians made a valiant, and mostly successful, effort to produce a distinctive performance.
Pianist Myung-Whun, who is currently an associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, revealed an uncommonly facile yet restrained touch that provided a common thread for the evening. Neither violinist Kung-Wha nor cellist Myung-Wha always technically matched his level of musical eloquence, the latter having particular difficulty producing solid tones, but they were in complete agreement with his carefully controlled approach.
If that approach left some of the bite out of the Shostakovich E. Minor Trio, there was a certain haunting quality in the playing that effectively underlined the score. Brahms' B Major Trio found both string players at their most persuasive and the pianist at his most felicitous, as they communicated the essence of each phrase. Throughout the concert, even in the relatively less polished account of a C Major Trio by Haydn, the Chungs strove to achieve that kind of communication, demonstrating in the process how to bring out the soul in music.