Mozart’s second theme entered prim, proper and restrained, as rendered by violinist Timothy Klabunde and then pianist Stefanie Jacob Monday evening, as the Prometheus Trio played Mozart’s Trio in E, K. 542 Monday evening. When Scott Tisdel’s cello took over, the melody stretched out and moved and became ardent.
Formally, this was going on: Klabunde and Jacob introduced and then repeated the tune. Tisdel took over as Mozart expanded upon. Hearing the whole of it was like watching an innocent girl bloom into the Romantic urgency of young womanhood. The music meant something in human terms.
That’s what I like about the Prometheus Trio, which is in residence at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where this concert took place. Klabunde, Jacob and Tisdel might not be note or pitch-perfect, but the way they play almost always draws plausible meaning from the music. Because of this, little glitches in ensemble and pitch, and some thin tone from Klabunde in the Mozart, didn’t really matter.
Mozart tends to expose that sort of thing. Such glitches, if they occurred in denser trios by Sibelius and Schumann and in Alan Hovahness’ relatively simple Trio 1, Opus 3, I didn’t hear them.
We mostly know Hovahness from his trendy whale-song pieces from the 1960s and 1970s. He was just 24 in 1935, when he wrote this trio, which sounds like an earnest, A-student groping for a true voice. I like its vigorous, well-crafted fugue and convincing variations and extensions on a fanfare-like motto.
The Trio in C (“Lovisa”), like so much of Sibelius’ music, turns on a magical, fantastical quality that has to do with running the same material through radically different emotional colorations. The first movement, for example, is essentially a jolly, forceful march, but it veers off on bizarre tangents of exotic lyricism. The dance movement begins like a half-forgotten waltz, assembled from fragments and heard through Jacob’s mysterious, veiled piano sound. This piece is a musical funhouse, a sort of Terry Gilliam movie in sound, and the Prometheans made it vivid and amazing.
This program, which sold out Monday, will be repeated at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 8), at the Conservatory, 1584 N. Prospect Ave. Call 414 276-5760 for tickets.