An affinity for Brahms was apparent from the very first phrase Monday night, as the Prometheus Trio played Opus 8. Pianist Stefanie Jacob gave that opening surge just the expansive, deep-breathing quality the music demands. Violinist Timothy Klabunde and cellist Scott Tisdel picked up on it immediately, and no one let go.
They were attuned to one another in every way and attuned to Brahms’ fleeting moods and to the large arcs of his weighty drama. In the Scherzo, the transformation from stomping jig to hushed tip-toe was completely convincing because it came at no loss of speed and momentum. The trio (the second section of the Scherzo) likewise began as a lullaby and rose to an ecstatic prayer.
Time stood still at the outset of the Adagio, as Jacob’s barely-there chords hung like mists in the hall. Through them, little by little, the main themes took shape in the strings. In the fierce finale, precise rhythm brought out the tug of duple against triple time and added a lot to the dramatic tension.
They performed Brahms’ 1891 revision, 30 years after the original, as everyone does. As a curiosity, they played a bit of the original Adagio as an encore. It was quite different and very lovely.
In Paul Moravec’s “Mood Swings,” a four-note motto expands into a long, lush melody and by turns becomes a stern declaration, a lyrical whimsy, a hymn, a breathless chase and a pounding juggernaut. Jacob, Klabunde and Tisdel knew what they were about every step of the way and gathered the fantastical variations into a forceful whole.
The Prometheus Trio is in residence at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where this concert took place. It will be repeated at the Conservatory, 1584 N. Prospect Ave., at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 22). Call 414-276-5760.