Trio Lyrika, formed at Indiana University in 1985 and now in residence at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, contains three strong personalities that easily blend as one, a trait worthy of the most respected veteran ensembles. Violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon and cellist Roman Borys are tastefully aggressive players who also know the power of restraint. Pianist Marie Fabi is the sympathetic anchor who keeps an ever-watchful eye on her colleagues much like Menahem Pressler (Lyrika's original coach) does with the Beaux Arts Trio. Put it all together and you have one of Canada's premier chamber groups whose growing reputation was further enhanced Thursday night at the Canadian Embassy.
Haydn's Piano Trio No. 43 in C Major therefore was not merely dusted off but revitalized thanks to Trio Lyrika's alert, nimble reading. The Piano Trio in D Minor of Anton Arensky allowed more opportunities for individual expression, which the strings pursued splendidly. Their matched tremolando bowings, Borys's melodic statements in the opening movement, Patipatanakoon's beautiful tone in the Elegy section and Fabi's unwavering support throughout gave definition and character to this piece.
Brahms's Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major reiterated the fact that the group is quite comfortable with big romantic works. What stood out, however, was not the sheer volume but the colorful shadings (notably in the middle movements) that Trio Lyrika produced via its use of dynamics. Fabi, both as catalyst and spokeswoman, showed that touch is everything.