In 1977, first lady Rosalynn Carter invited violinist Jaime Laredo, cellist Sharon Robinson and pianist Joseph Kalichstein to play at a White House reception. The group took the name Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio a few years later. They celebrated the milestone with a concert on the Kennedy Center’s Fortas Chamber Music Concerts series Wednesday evening. The program combined the same two pieces as that first performance at the White House, plus a work commissioned for the occasion.
Having played music together for the past 40 seasons, these musicians clearly know one another’s tendencies, heard from the start of Mendelssohn’s late piano trio in C minor. The second movement especially had a pleasing, gentle pacing, and the breathless Scherzo was mercurial. Mendelssohn’s quotation in the finale of the famous melody from the Geneva Psalter known as Old Hundredth was a gesture of thanksgiving for the composer’s recent recovery, and that of his youngest son, from illness.
Schubert’s Piano Trio in E-flat is also one of its composer’s last works, completed in 1827. The melodies in this work are more memorable, and the group knew exactly what to do with them, giving a comfortable weightiness to the slow movement, for example. Kalichstein lightened the extensive figuration in the piano part throughout the piece, and these veteran musicians knew how to give the music some room to breathe in the Scherzo.
American composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s new piece “Pas de Trois” opened the evening with a flourish, which contained a whiff of “Hail to the Chief” in honor of the group’s first concert together. The work rollicked along with blues-inflected riffs in dancing unisons on three main motifs: fast runs, repeated notes and syncopations. One hopes the trio’s spirit of musical exploration will continue another 40 years.