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Music Reviews : Trio West Presents United Front: Balanced, Intimate

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Although circumstances offstage conspired to confound concentration, the members of Trio West remained focused and apparently unperturbed during Sunday’s concert, the third of the Fullerton Friends of Music 1994-95 series.

The Sunny Hills High School auditorium buzzed with constant conversation, frequent reminders of flu season and one or two cases of butterfingers mingled with electronic humming and the gurgling of a lobby drinking fountain.

Nevertheless, after almost a decade of work as a trio, violinist Mark Baranov--associate concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic--his wife, pianist Lina Targonsky, and fellow orchestra member cellist Barry Gold presented a united ensemble, admirably balanced and comfortably intimate in the exchange of emotions and ideas.

On this occasion, they painted Haydn’s Trio in C, Hob. 15, No. 21, with round-toned gentleness and poignancy before hurtling through the Presto with ever-directed clarity.

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The musicians assailed the outer movements of Beethoven’s “Ghost” Trio with verve and point, stirringly complementing one another’s phrases. During the Largo, from which the work received its nickname, lines intermingled with phantom-like stealth, joining for weighty sadness.

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The group plumbed the depths of grief with dark intensity in the Trio in A minor, Opus 50, by Tchaikovsky. In this piece--written as a memorial to pianist Nikolai Rubinstein after his death in 1881--the players achieved greatest effect in the deliberate, mournful respites of the opening movement and the playful and lyrical sections of the Theme and Variations.

Targonsky excelled at lighter touches--neatly floating cascades of notes in the scherzo or taking a playful jaunt in the upper register--but she sometimes brought excessive refinement to an Elegy that begs for large gestures and power.

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