American Record Guide
I heard this group, previously unknown to me, in concert in West Palm Beach, FL. I went with limited expectations, but I heard one of the greatest performances of chamber music I´ve ever encountered.
The Trio con Brio Copenhagen is only onethird Danish.pianist Jens Elvekjaer. The remaining members are two Korean sisters, violinist Soo-Jin Hong and cellist Soo-Kyung Hong. The trio was formed in 1999 and has an impressive record of performances and awards, mostly in Europe and Asia. Their most recent honor is the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson International Trio Award. This biennial prize is given by that trio to support rising careers. It includes a recording contract, a series of concerts, and the loan of a priceless historical violin and cello.
The evening.s concert included the Ravel and the Dvorak, two of the greatest of all chamber works, and their performance was overwhelming. This recording is a comparable experience, with a more interesting filler than the Haydn trio they presented that night.
Let.s get the basics out of the way. Balance, ensemble, intonation are all perfect. They play with perfect unanimity, and each is a solid virtuoso. What stands out from this ensemble is the range of tone and sound, especially from the Hongs. They command an amazing range of timbres. Melodies sing with an aching sweetness, or seduce with wild eroticism, or haunt with impenetrable mystery. Cellist Kyung has a hundred different sounds of pizzicato and can fill the hall with the depth of her lowest register. Pianist Elvekjaer fears nothing, yet never for a moment overwhelms his colleagues. The Ravel.s second movement, .Pantoum., dances gaily around that wonderful central melody. Menahem Pressler once referred to that passage, noting .the rare privilege we musicians enjoy, to be permitted to play such beauty., and the Copenhagen sings it gloriously. The performance of the .Passacaille. (III) is elemental, inexorable.
It captivates the listener like the flow of a mighty ocean current. In the finale the trio conjures a mighty wind of sound that threatens to blow the listener away. This is a memorable performance. The Ravel is supremely Gallic, and the Dvorak requires an equal understanding of the Czech cultural soul. Once, while traveling in Moravia, I heard a band of fine local musicians, and it was immediately apparent what was the source of Dvorak.s language.
The Trio now seems authentically and completely Czech, and they perform the work with the same masterly approach they brought to the Ravel. They are revelatory. They move comfortably and convincingly from melancholy to exuberant joy, and the listener cannot fail to be taken along. The Bloch Nocturnes are less impressive only because they are less great music. Each is a meditation on some aspect of night. They are interesting, even moving, and are played with the same care and devotion the Trio gave to the Ravel and the Dvorak.
There are plenty of fine performances of these works. The Trio Fontenay.s Dvorak has consistently been a favorite on the pages of ARG (Overview, S/O 1998), and other performances have seen very favorable reviews, such as the Joachim Trio (J/A 1999). The Joachim was also praised in the Ravel (J/F 1996), as was the Previn (N/D 1995). But this one now has a place on my desert island list, assuming I can find a desert island with consistent electrical power.