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Music review: Trio Con Brio Copenhagen at Nordic Cool festival

Trio con Brio Copenhagen. Cellist Mathias Beyer-Karlhoj (not pictured) is replacing Soo-Kyung Hong (right) on this tour. Hong is in Copenhagen, expecting her and pianist Jens Elvekjaer's (center) first child. (Nikolaj Lund/Nikolaj Lund)

Glowing reports hold true. The Trio Con Brio Copenhagen clearly occupies a lofty perch in today’s musical scene. On Tuesday, the ensemble (violinist Soo-Jin Hong, cellist Mathias Beyer-Karlshoj and pianist Jens Elvekjaer) helped skyrocket the Kennedy Center’s Nordic Cool festival toward its Sunday finish line with a concert of exquisitely wrought music at the center’s Terrace Theater. Ravel’s ravishing Piano Trio followed a pair of evocative, fantasy-propelled works by Denmark’s Bent Sorensen and Per Norgard. Mendelssohn’s compelling Piano Trio No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 66, capped the evening.

The Nordic works were beautifully done. Sorensen’s “Phantasmagoria,” from 2007, wends an ambiguous way through textures of fleeting melodic motives, each instantly giving way to another in its microsecond of existence. Norgard based his “Three Fragments (After a Dream)” on an “infinity row,” creating a mathematical structure inherited from the 12-tone system. Composed last year, the piece consists of cascading fragments as soft as the tread of cat paws. The Copenhagen musicians ventured through these scores with airily skimmed piano keys matched by fleet, shimmering bows.

The trio missed not a shade of Ravel’s multicolored exoticism — based on melodic ideas drawn from his Basque inheritance and touching on Asian scale systems. The musicians were totally in contact with one another, making their passionate fury even more intense and moments of shimmering playfulness all the more ebullient. Whether in its splashes of gentle lyricism or in its fiery energy, Mendelssohn’s Op. 66 is a close relative of his “Songs Without Words” for piano; the Copenhageners captured these contrasting moods with meticulous technique, sweetness of tone and sensitive engagement.

Porter is a freelance writer.



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