A Terrace Theater audience skipped early election returns Tuesday evening in favor of relaxation at the Kennedy Center, where Trio Solisti offered two hours of sophisticated -- and decisive -- music.
Though Trio Solisti's members have distinct playing styles, they allowed no solipsism in their sounds. Teamwork played a crucial role in their musicality, which was marked by a hyperconsciousness of melody and balance and pursued with dramatic muscle and dynamic limberness. Cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach bowed with sinewy grace while violinist Maria Bachmann rocked flamboyantly through Brahms's Trio No. 1 in B, Op. 8. Pianist Jon Klibonoff's facile fingers supported their rich tones on the open Steinway. Their pensive Adagio reflected fine musical craftsmanship, delicate as hand-blown glass.
A decade-long relationship with composer Paul Moravec has yielded a few works written for Solisti. One of them, "Mood Swings," composed in 1998, finally received its Washington premiere Tuesday. The 14-minute work, which depicts the central nervous system, elicited nuanced playing in serene sections. But Solisti was best during rhythmic passages. Ravel's Trio in A Minor relies heavily on the piano for tonal textures, and Klibonoff produced plenty of them, including harplike flourishes and desiccated chords. His opening bass theme in the third movement sounded hauntingly innocent, while Gerlach's molten amber tone made it sound plaintive.
The performance, part of Washington Performing Arts Society's Kreeger String Series, concluded with a cheeky encore of Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So," in honor of the election, sending listeners home in good humor.
-- Grace Jean