Last night at the Organization of American States, the Arts Trio of the Catholic University of Chile put on a "passion play"--or display in a quartet of works that allowed them free rein to indulge their individual bravura and finesse, without subverting the cohesiveness of the ensemble.
The centerpiece of the concert was the Washington premiere of Chilean composer Alejandro Guerello's "Trio 1982," dedicated to the group. Scarcely 15 minutes long, it is rife with the sort of effects that not long ago would have singed the ears of all but the most seasoned devotees of contemporary music. Cellist Edgar Fischer switched from icy ponticellos (bowing near the bridge) to chaotic glissandos, to plucked vamps reminiscent of a jazz bassist; pianist Maria Iris Radrigan added abstract arpeggios and clusters to a brief section when she struck the strings inside the piano. Not merely a novelty for novelty's sake trio, the piece has tension, continuity and resolution.
The Arts Trio forged its identity in the opening Beethoven Trio in D, Op. 70, No. 1 ("Ghost") as it charged headlong into the syncopated first theme of the allegro, then waxed poetic in the largo, with Fischer and Sergio Prieto doubling the melody as Radrigan contributed eerie, spectral trills.
A last-minute program change--Mendelssohn's Trio No. 2 replacing Dvorak's "Dumky" Trio--reopened the passion floodgates with kinetic interplay between strings and piano that carried over into the encore, the first movement from Shostakovich's Trio No. 2, Op. 67.