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Ohio Players

Preucil, Kim, and Rowe Trio, presented by the Music Academy of
the West. At Lotte Lehmann Hall, Tuesday, November 28.

Reviewed by Josef Woodard

Trio-02.jpgLast Tuesday night at the Music Academy
of the West’s Lotte Lehmann Hall, a “what’s wrong with this
picture” feeling quickly segued into a satisfying “what’s right
with this picture” sensation. After decades of expecting and
experiencing the Music Academy of the West’s musical splendor in
its usual summertime slot, a new wrinkle has appeared with the
inaugural Advanced Strings Workshop. One happy, if initially
disarming, result was the scheduling of an engaging “off season”
chamber music recital on a late autumnal evening. On this night,
two fine string players from Ohio showed why their state is
embarrassed by its serious music riches. Cellist Eric Kim,
principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony, and violinist William
Preucil, concertmaster of the famed Cleveland Orchestra, were
joined by Canadian pianist Arthur Rowe, a longtime collaborator
with Preucil.

The program appeared fairly stodgy; a meat-and-potatoes stew of
Brahms, early Richard Strauss, and Mendelssohn, but the playing was
inspired and precision-geared, epitomizing the excitement and
challenge of the chamber music ethos, from players with the wisdom,
interactive antennae, and attention to detail to make any score
sing.

And sing they did. Their command of the music and collective
rapport was immediately apparent from the first undulant gusts of
Brahms’s Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 2, Opus 99. Cellist Kim
unveiled his sweet, substantial tone and full-service grasp of the
music’s emotional landscape, from the adagio’s oscillating
melancholy and high hopes to serial moments of apt romantic
bravado.

Strauss, the composer who so effectively straddled the 19th and
20th centuries, sticks to his Brahms-ian, 19th-century manners in
his Sonata for Violin and Piano in E-flat, Opus 18. The going gets
tough, technically, and violinist Preucil and Rowe acquitted
themselves beautifully, tapping into the relatively free-flowing
spirit of the “Improvisation” movement, and working up the
controlled fever pitch of the finale. A fleeting, dramatic pregnant
pause triggered a laugh from the crowd, before they flung
themselves into the sprint to the end.

Leaping back further into the 19th century, all three musicians
offered a strong feeling of accord for Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No.
1 in D Minor, Opus 49, which was the concert’s clear highlight.
Strings stated graceful melodies over fast, rippling piano
arpeggios in the brisker movements, while the slow andante attained
rhapsodic grace, and offered pianist Rowe a ripe showcase. More,
please. n

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