The left hand of Menahem Pressler moves seemingly with a will of its own, one finger striking while the others stand poised, waiting their turn to join in the stately dance.
The hand is not so much playing as caressing the opening notes of the "Pantoum" movement of Ravel's Piano Trio. The motion has a special kind of beauty, hardly visible to most people in a concert hall but strikingly caught by the eye of the television camera on the "In Residence" program to be telecast tomorrow (10 p.m., Channel 26; simulcast on WETA-FM).
The Beaux Arts Trio plays beautifully, as one expects of this group, music of Haydn (the finale of a trio in A), Ravel (the Trio in A minor) and Brahms (the Trio in C minor, Op. 101). On most television sets, the sound will fall somewhat short of ultimate realism. But skilled camera work, closely attuned to the music's shifting emphases, makes the experience, visually, better than being there.
The small screen has a special aptness for the intimacy of chamber music. One watches, from inches away, the tip of Bernard Greenhouse's bow sliding across a string of his cello. Isidore Cohen's left hand can be seen trembling on a string to produce the vibrato that breathes life into a long-held note in Romantic violin music. At times, an intent watcher becomes almost a member of the Beaux Arts Trio.