MUSIC REVIEW : Heroic Playing From Eroica Trio at UCLA


Earthquake damage may have forced a venue change at UCLA, from Royce Hall to the more intimate Schoenberg Hall, but it’s hard to imagine the Eroica Trio having any trouble filling a larger space than it did on Sunday. This is a small group with a bold sound and a forceful presence.

In Westwood, the trio played with aplomb, individually and in ensemble, and delivered an impressive connective empathy. True to the group’s name, after Beethoven’s opus, the Eroica Trio has a tendency to embrace the heroic rather than savor the meditative.

Often as not, cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio led the charge, with a more intense approach to her instrument than either violinist Adela Pena or pianist Erika Nickrenz. Continuous dynamic flexibility is a hallmark of the group, but they live for the big moments.


This tack worked well on the baroque and romantic turf, respectively, of Jean-Baptiste Loeillet and Edouard Lalo. On the latter’s Trio in C minor, the Eroica tightly hugged the bravura contours of the finale, to dazzling effect.

Some of the all-important enigma was lost, however, in Ravel’s A-minor Trio, to which the ensemble brought a fastidious clarity, and vigor instead of vagueness. At the risk of personalizing culture, the “Passecaille: Tres large,” with its rueful Oriental theme reconfigured over funereal, tolling piano chords, played like a becalming prayer for a disaster-stricken city.

For an agreeable bit of Francophilic fluff, they played Benjamin Godard’s Berceuse, from “Jocelyn,” as an encore.