One could almost hear the members of the Beaux Arts Trio breathe a sigh of relief during the pauses after each movement in the latter part of their concert at the Library of Congress' Coolidge Auditorium last night.
They opened with a disjointed reading of Mozart's Trio in E Major, K. 542. The promise, hinted at in the opening movement, never came to fruition.
Instead, violinist Isidore Cohen wrestled with intonation problems, which were particularly severe in the final movement, and cellist Bernard Greenhouse suffered one jarring lapse in concentration, nearly missing a phrase in the second movement.
The group was considerably more cohesive in Schumann's Trio in G minor, Op. 110, bringing out the luster in that darker hued work.
Pianist Menahem Pressler molded the dialogue with an almost conversational ease -- prodding the strings at one moment, then appropriately reticent. Except for minor ensemble problems in the last movement, the performance was marked by an abundance of finely tuned phrases.
The group's approach to Rachmaninoff's Trio E'le'giaque in D Minor, Op. 9, was passionate but tightly controlled. Here, the Beaux Arts was in fine form -- a rare blending of rare voices.
In one especially memorable moment from the first movement, the cello and violin shared a lyrical line over a rapid-fire but feather-light piano part.
Intensity built to a furious splendor, which rapidly receded, curling into a ruminative passage. The trio's feel for the shape of the line was uncanny, almost tactile.
They traced the ebb and flow of emotions with extraordinary grace.
The group played the final movement of Haydn's trio in G major as a well-earned encore, more than compensating for the inelegant opening.