Longtime friends Joshua Bell, Steven Isserlis and Jeremy Denk united to perform Piano Trios. Their playing was distinguished by elegance, finely honed dynamics and phrasing, and infectious musical affinity.
The recital opened on a passionately romantic note with Mendelssohn: magnificent playing, but it was Denk who was the most obviously inspired. The indisputable highlight was the eerily enigmatic Shostakovich written in the midst of World War Two and dedicated to the composer’s close friend, the polymath and musician Ivan Ivanovich Sollertinsky, who had suddenly died at the age of forty-one. As with much of Shostakovich’s oeuvre, the work reflects the tragic situation at large – and especially in the Soviet Union – and is profoundly emotional. The performance was utterly spellbinding, with tremendous energy and visceral power completely transparent in the performers’ vital and sensitive playing.
After intermission came a sumptuous and mellifluous account of Rachmaninov’s single-movement Trio élégiaque. The players spontaneously captured the music’s ebb and flow, imbued with melancholy, swelling at times to moments of lyrical fervor. The evening ended with a responsive and intensely sensitive account of Ravel’s Trio given with exceptional tonal finesse and artistry, delivering wonderfully refined playing and successfully conveying the rage and conflict of the electrifying Finale.