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Music Review : Trio di Milano Plays in Coleman Concerts Series

February 23, 1988|DANIEL CARIAGA

Despite two changes of violinist in the last decade, the Trio di Milano of 1988 seems pretty much the same ensemble it was in the 1970s: polished and competent to a fault, tight in matters of thought and execution, slick in sound-profile.

And not spontaneous. As the group showed at its latest local performance, Sunday afternoon for Coleman Concerts in Beckman Auditorium at Caltech, Pasadena, consistency, not heat or insight, is its hallmark.

The present membership--founders Bruno Canino (piano) and Rocco Filippini (cello), with the recently arrived Mariana Sirbu (violin)--represents high standards of technical and musical accomplishment, and delivers immaculate readings. Yet, for all their virtues, those readings tend not to be lively. Sculptured and contrived, yes--but not breathing. Certainly not breathing heavily.

The three trios played at this matinee performance, by Haydn, Faure and Shostakovich, emerged similar rather than contrasting, so neatly were they presented. Hard-edged textures, flippant passage-work and well-grooved tempos marked each one.

A stodgy approach to rhythm quite undermined the brittle performance of Haydn's Trio in E minor, Hob. XV, No. 12. The charms, plasticity, and fluid nature of Faure's Trio in D minor, emerged merely uneventful in the Trio di Milano's unfaceted and heartless reading.

And Shostakovich's impassioned and bitter Trio, Opus 67, though it could boast deeper contrasts than what had preceded it, still suffered from unclear focus and a lack of colors; it got loud, but never mordant.

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