When musicians with international renown as soloists join forces to play chamber music, one awaits, sometimes fruitlessly, a revelatory performance that lives up to the individual talents, a glorious ensemble sound for jaded ears. Yesterday at the National Institutes of Health's Masur Auditorium in Bethesda, the Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio proved that such a blending is not a pipe dream, as their program of piano trios provided the perfect antidote for a dreary Sunday afternoon.
While their instrumental balance preserved the clarity of each voice throughout, one could best zero in on the group's strengths in the Poco adagio of Dvora'k's Trio in F Minor, Op. 65, the final piece. Pianist David Golub's forceful chording and delicate arpeggios possessed a luster--thanks to resourceful pedaling--that enhanced the strings, specifically violinist Mark Kaplan's singing, slightly brittle tone and cellist Colin Carr's warm, deeply expressive playing in the upper register.
The trio asserted its personality in the opening bars of the Piano Trio in E Major, K. 542 by Mozart, who conceived the work during a creative peak when his personal life was in a shambles. They captured the essence of quiet resignation, with Golub's meticulous phrasing leading the way in a setting more or less designed as a piano sonata with string accompaniment.
With the Beethoven Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 3 and the Dvora'k Trio, thematic colors are more evenly divided, and the strings vigorously attended to the redoubling storm-and-stress outbursts punctuated by respites of tranquility. If the violin and cello exaggerated the sforzandos a bit (Carr broke a string during the first movement of the Dvora'k), chalk it up to artistic license--though such gestures were still within the bounds of acceptable Romantic temperament.