Dr. Patricia Gray, who is a pianist, regularly brings chamber musicians together under the name of National Musical Arts to perform at the National Academy of Sciences. Her speciality is lesser known chamber works, and she manages to uncover pieces both of deserved and of undeserved obscurity.
Saturday she brought a trio to perform music by Beethoven, Arthur Foote, Prokofiev and Arensky. The Beethoven Trio, Op. 1 No. 1, while no masterpiece, is a well-mannered, cheerful piece dutifully in the classic mold. Led by Gray's sturdy pianism and the stylish playing of violinist Rebecca Green, it got a tidy reading that might have profited by more aggressive playing by cellist Jack Kirstein.
Foote's E-flat Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 76, is a fine example of American Romantic music, broad and lush and unabashedly effusive. None of this, unfortunately, seemed to be part of cellist Kirstein's repertoire of techniques. He overshot the mark regularly as he slid to higher positions, ran out of bow breathlessly during long passionate phrases, and generally seemed overwhelmed by the music. This is a nice piece that will have to wait a little longer for a fitting local performance.
Green gave a fine, perky account of Prokofiev's ubiquitous D Major Violin Sonata, and the concert ended with a trio by Arensky that had very little to say but said it long, prettily and pretentiously. This is a piece that might best be left unrediscovered.