Tom Strini

Prometheus Trio plays Lalo, Ysaye, Beethoven

By - Sep 20th, 2011 12:37 am

Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931) soaked up the music around him, from Viennese schmaltz to French Impressionism to German Expressionism.


The Prometheus Trio: cellist Scott Tisdel, violinist Timothy Klabunde, and pianist Stefanie Jacob.

Monday night at the Prometheus Trio’s opener, we heard it all in Ysaÿe’s remarkable Poème Nocturne, Opus 29, from 1927. Opus 29 comprises four movements in a continuous flow of style-jumping music. Pianist Stefanie Jacob, violinist Timothy Klabunde and cellist Scott Tisdel leaned hard on chains of gnarly chords that might have come from a transitional Schoenberg score. Such passages might abut music that sounds like a Fritz Kreisler confection.

This wild, inventive, and dauntingly virtuosic (for the strings) piece doesn’t get played all that much, but it should. The Prometheans certainly showed it in its best light. They threw themselves into the various idioms and drove the many climaxes hard, but still kept an eye on the big picture. Very satisfying.

The same held for Beethoven’s Opus 38. This is Beethoven’s trio arrangement of his Opus 20 Septet, for three winds and four strings. The music sounded right at home on violin, cello and piano Monday night at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where the Prometheus is in residence. Taut rhythm and vigorous accents gave the first movement a lot of punch. The presto finale and the lightly skipping, then gliding scherzo/trio got just as much energy, but of difference sorts. The players drove through the first movement, but they made the finale swing in pendulous phrases that gathered force, like waves nearing the beach.

They also lavished plenty of effort on Lalo’s youthful Trio in C Minor, Opus 7, circa 1850. Some of that effort translated to a reckless excitement that had a certain appeal, especially in the opening movement. But the interpretation was unsettled. The players stayed firmly in the groove in the slow movement, a lullaby of great warmth and charm, but jumped in and out of it during the three faster movements. Tempos wobbled, ensemble frayed, accuracy suffered. These things happen.

The Lalo trio — a wonderful piece — might very well be perfect when the Prometheans repeat this program at 7:30 tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 20) at the conservatory, 1584 N. Prospect Ave. Tickets are $22; a four-concert subscription is $70; call (414) 276-5760.

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