MUSIC REVIEW : Beaux Arts Trio Starts Off on Wrong Notes


"Ya can't win 'em all," they say. The Beaux Arts Trio has come close to defying that bit of logic over the four decades of its existence. However, kicking off the new season of the Laguna Chamber Music Series on Monday in the Irvine Barclay Theatre, the current incarnation of the vaunted ensemble--violinist Ida Kavafian, cellist Peter Wiley and perennial pianist Menaham Pressler--was clearly out of sorts.

Mozart's Trio in C, K. 548, was beset by mechanical spills, most contributed by Pressler, and the embarrassment of at least a dozen audience latecomers allowed entry after the start of second movement, which is soft, slow and dreamy.

Joaquin Turina's wanly pretty 1932 Trio was subsequently delivered in the appropriate spirit of sweet-toned enervation but marred by less than ideal synchronization in the central vivace movement, where Pressler's hyper-animated piano seemed to take on a separate life.

The Beaux Arts has rethought its approach to Schubert's E-flat Trio, D. 929, many times over the decades. On this occasion, the artists may have decided on "slow" and "mannered" as interpretive watchwords.

The result was lugubrious, discontinuous Schubert, as crammed with tempo changes as a Mahler symphony and hokey dynamics that often fell below a tolerable (or audible) sotto voce level, particularly in the case of Wiley's cello, which sounded underpowered all evening.

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