Cologne Piano Trio – Press

Cologne Piano Trio


Münsterland Zeitung, January 4th 2006

Mourning Shostakovich meets humorous Beethoven

New Accents in a New Year Concert

Heek. Quite beyond the usual sounds of the Strauss Dynasty’s polkas and waltzes, the Cologne Piano Trio fashioned a somewhat different style of a New Year’s Concert last Sunday evening. Two masterpieces of chamber music by Ludwig van Beethoven and Dmitri Shostakovich opened the musical year of the State Musical Academy. At the same time, it was the internationally famous ensemble’s start into the annual course of chamber music.

Passion full of temperament, together with a vigourous and powerful grasp, marked the beginning of the Piano Trio in B flat Major, op. 97, the so-called “Archduke Trio” by Ludwig van Beethoven. The Cologne Trio demonstrated their excellence from the very beginning: while the first theme got off with a powerful start, triggered by the piano’s clear impulses, Günter Ludwig’s partners reacted with sensitivity and restraint to the piano passages, which were sometimes heavily accented. In the third movement the musicians demonstrated harmony, matched with sensitivity and power of concentration. The mighty climax at the end did not fail to produce its electrifying effects. There was pure joy in music-making in the final movement: cosily thumping, the finale soared to a merry and animated ending. In the quick finish the Trio showed Beethoven’s hidden humour, combined with much sensitivity.

The second Piano Trio in E minor, op. 67, by Dmitri Shostakovich, led into a quite different world. As his biographer Krzysztof Meyer puts it, “the Second Piano Trio belongs to Shostakovich’s tragic works, despite the fact that the emotions are deeply hidden there.” First it is an hommage to his closest friend Ivan Sollertinski, whose sudden death had deeply shaken Shostakovich; then he was also moved by mourning the tragedy of the Jews in the Soviet Union, which he proves by using Jewish themes. The Cologne Piano Trio impressively conjured up the wide variety of sentiments: the hollow, flageolet-like whistling of the cello, with which Joanna Sachryn opens the first movement, is a reminder of death; this is joined by Walter Schreiber’s violin, played softly and in a high register; Günter Ludwig resignedly accompanies them, dabbing a subdued funeral march. It is just not possible to condense mourning and anxiety in a more emotional manner. The Allegro of the second movement does not offer any consolation: it wildly flings a furious and grotesque frenzy of aggressive motion into the hall. This hopelessness is even more intensified by the Largo which follows. It is not until the final movement that more positive sounds appear, yet even these leave the listener in deep thoughtfulness.

By their overwhelming applause the audience got as an encore the third movement of Robert Schumann’s Second Piano Trio in F Major, op. 80.

Erhard Hundorf

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