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MUSIC REVIEW : Eroica Trio: Compelling Presence at Ford

August 10, 1994|TIMOTHY MANGAN

It's the '90s, man--image is everything.

Fortunately, image wasn't everything Monday night with the Eroica Trio, which nevertheless wasn't beyond making the most of appearances. Lots of sequins. Lots of skin. Well, it was a warm evening.

But the three young women who make up the Eroica Trio--Erika Nickrenz, piano; Adela Pena, violin, and Sara Sant'Ambrogio, cello--quickly forced one to forget about looks. In closing the seventh season of Chamber Music Under the Stars at John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, the Eroica turned out to be a highly accomplished, serious and compelling presence.

In Beethoven's jolly Trio in B-flat, Opus 11, the trio revealed muscle and grace in equal parts, finely honed ensemble skills and individual playing of polished character. Interpretive niceties didn't fall by the wayside either, as when the group showed just how stodgy the finale's theme (by Joseph Weigl) is, and thereby pointed up just how inspired Beethoven's variations are.

Mendelssohn's D-minor Trio, Opus 49, became an opportunity for virtuosic display, and though there was never a lack of emotional weight, swift tempos did the job. Unlike the Mendelssohn, however, the Brahms Hungarian Dance played in encore seemed merely display, with its too-fast tempos and showy shifts of gear impressively negotiated.

The fierce reading of Shostakovich's E-minor Trio, Opus 67, was prefaced by cellist Sant'Ambrogio's spoken interpretation of its meaning, which contained a few stretchers. The performance had it all though--vigor, restraint, monumental effects, whispered nuances, sinister darkness and comedy. It revealed the work to be its usual unequivocally enigmatic self.

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