Crystal chandeliers, marble-braided columns and 19th-century Steinways do not necessarily translate into stellar acoustics, as the American Chamber Orchestra Trio discovered at the Anderson House Saturday afternoon.
Although for the most part excellent musicians, the trio was injured by inferior sound conditions throughout the first part of the performance. They limited pianist Joanne Haroutounian by killing the piano's natural harmonics and dynamics. Surprisingly enough, violinist William Haroutounian could still conjure an almost 18th-century authenticity from his instrument.
Acoustics aside, the selection of music was intriguing, if sometimes troublesome. A puzzling piece, Leclair's Trio Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, left little room for error as attempts to make the piano sound like a harpsichord continuo proved vain. And the two Romantic piano trios, Dvorak's in E minor and Mendelssohn's in D minor, seemingly alike, were curiously treated disparately.
But the trio succeeded at capturing both composers' musical personalities -- the foreboding heaviness and nationalistic idioms of Dvorak, and the light melodies and classical influence of Mendelssohn. Cellist David Premo gave an expressive yet well tempered playing of Dvorak, and in the Mendelssohn, the trio overcame earlier problems and reveled in the music's infectious spirit.