The Monticello Trio, in its second season as ensemble-in-residence at the University of Virginia, played a sumptuous program Sunday at the Phillips Collection. Violinist Mark Rush, cellist Mathias Wexler and pianist Tannis Gibson rendered glowing samples from the piano trio repertoire, each revealing the group's heightened sense of musicality.
In Mozart's buoyant Trio in B Flat Major, K. 502, a warm and sensitive instrumental balance was established that instilled the music with a delightful, genteel character. The allegretto finale contained natural, unaffected tempos that propelled the work to its carefree conclusion. If a few notes were not executed smoothly, the overall tone more than compensated.
Complex rhythms and layered textures in Charles Ives' Piano Trio posed no obstacle for the group, as it maneuvered easily through the tongue-in-cheek middle movement, TSIAJ (the composer's acronym for "this scherzo is a joke"). Smetana's impassioned G Minor Trio, Op. 15, allowed for ample lyricism delineated by broad and majestic phrasing. Particularly effective were the agitated passages of the finale, which brought a genuine intensity to the surface.
An encore, the "Pantoum" scherzo from Ravel's Trio, again showed a beautiful, springy sound, full of well-conceived musical energy. The concert will be broadcast at 10 p.m. Feb. 29 over WETA-FM.