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Claremont Trio reveals emotional range at Library of Congress

New York City-based Claremont Trio offered up an intriguing program Friday evening at the Library of Congress, pairing two Romantic chamber works with an artwork-inspired contemporary piece that each showcased the ensemble’s evocative strengths and emotional depth.

Exacting about voicing when crafting melodic passages, Claremont is a sensitive group that plays with passion. These qualities were evident from the lush opening bars of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Piano Trio in D Minor, Op. 11, in which pianist Andrea Lam’s gossamer arpeggios flowed beneath the sweetly understated melodies of cellist Julia Bruskin and violinist Emily Bruskin. Lam’s delicate keyboard approach not only anchored the score but also allowed it to spiral into the heavens.

As finely as the trio performs dramatics, it is in the execution of atmospheric material that is most captivating. In the D.C. premiere of Helen Grime’s “Three Whistler Miniatures,” a 2012 work commissioned by the Claremont and written after the composer saw James McNeill Whistler’s paintings exhibited in Boston, the three musicians focused on aural textures: buzzy strings by the Bruskin twins evoking insects and Lam’s gentle dewdrop notes creating a spider web sparkling in moonbeams.

With guest violist Misha Amory, Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 60, unfolded with a steady momentum and shapely phrases. The trio, enhanced by Amory’s warm caramel tone on viola, achieved some nuanced colors, especially in the bittersweet Andante with reflective musings by the cello, and in the Finale, in which the triumphant strings’ chorale soared above the piano’s trickling accompaniment.

Jean is a freelancer writer.