Despite its bulk, the cello is a remarkably versatile instrument, able to go from a whisper to a roar without hesitation. Cellist Peter Wiley of the Beaux Arts Trio explored these extremes and many regions in between during Shostakovich's Trio in E Minor, Op. 67, last night at the Library of Congress. His chain of gliding harmonics opened the piece, whereupon Isidore Cohen entered on muted violin, establishing an eerie dialogue.
They squared off for a heated duel in the second movement, calmed themselves briefly, then exchanged words through strummed chords on the upbeat and downbeat. With a bow that bounced and fingers that plucked, Wiley goaded his fellow musicians into a top-notch, exciting performance.
The group worked up to Shostakovich by way of Haydn's Trio in E, H. XV:28. Menahem Pressler made the most of his piano solo in the middle movement, which acts as a calming influence over the darting melodies elsewhere. For Brahms' Trio in C, Op. 87, the Beaux Arts exhibited its typical ensemble opulence, and conveyed a sense of urgency that propelled the music. One could hear the sprite wings of the Mendelssohn Octet rustle in Brahms' scherzo.
The concert will be repeated tonight.