John Harbison's "Twilight Music for Violin, Horn and Piano" received an impressive Washington debut at the Library of Congress' Summer Chamber Festival last night.
Harbison's music was warmly received, probably because he uses familiar musical ideas -- for instance, a jazz sound in the piano during the second movement. But credit also goes to the performers, notably violinist Junko Ohtsu, whose sensitive playing often gave the impression of floating above Anthony Cecere's horn and Barbara Weintraub's piano. The Friedheim award-winning composer wrote the piece while he was composer-in-residence at the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1984.
Dvorak's Trio for Piano and Strings, Op. 65, written in 1883, is a dramatic statement of the grief he felt at the death of his mother. Violinist Alexis Galperine, cellist Peter Wiley and pianist Edmund Battersby gave a spirited performance -- perhaps occasionally too spirited. But their zeal was appreciated in the moving finale, animating the dance rhythm taken from Bohemian folk roots.
Galperine, Wiley and violist Miles Hoffman joined together for some brilliant ensemble work in Beethoven's String Trio, Op. 9, No. 1, shifting easily through the ever-changing dynamics of the first movement, and racing down the home stretch in the finale.