By Cecelia H. Porter,
Glowing reports hold true. The Trio Con Brio Copenhagen clearly occupies a lofty perch in today’s musical scene. On Tuesday, the ensemble helped skyrocket the Kennedy Center’s Nordic Cool festival toward its Sunday finish line with a concert of exquisitely wrought music at the center’s Terrace Theater. Ravel’s ravishing Piano Trio followed a pair of evocative, fantasy-propelled works by Denmark’s Bent Sorensen and Per Norgard. Mendelssohn’s compelling Piano Trio No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 66, capped the evening.
The Nordic works were beautifully done. Sorensen’s “Phantasmagoria,” from 2007, wends an ambiguous way through textures of fleeting melodic motives, each instantly giving way to another in its microsecond of existence. Norgard based his “Three Fragments (After a Dream)” on an “infinity row,” creating a mathematical structure inherited from the 12-tone system. Composed last year, the piece consists of cascading fragments as soft as the tread of cat paws. The Copenhagen musicians ventured through these scores with airily skimmed piano keys matched by fleet, shimmering bows.
The trio missed not a shade of Ravel’s multicolored exoticism — based on melodic ideas drawn from his Basque inheritance and touching on Asian scale systems. The musicians were totally in contact with one another, making their passionate fury even more intense and moments of shimmering playfulness all the more ebullient. Whether in its splashes of gentle lyricism or in its fiery energy, Mendelssohn’s Op. 66 is a close relative of his “Songs Without Words” for piano; the Copenhageners captured these contrasting moods with meticulous technique, sweetness of tone and sensitive engagement.
Porter is a freelance writer.
“An appearance by Trio con Brio Copenhagen, one of the finest piano trios on the current scene, is a highlight of the current week.”
THE NEW YORKER
“The playing was absolutely gorgeous, with sound quality I’ve never heard before from a piano trio, subtle and supple, dramatic contrasts from fiery to languorous, a sweet flute-like purity from Soo-Jin’s violin, Soo-Kyung’s dark brooding and moody cello, and Elvekjaer’s piano either leading a headlong rush or dramatically slowing the tempo . . . infinite tenderness . . . freshness and edginess . . . moments of magnificent density . . . [a] reading suffused with exploration and questioning.”
BOSTON MUSICAL INTELLIGENCER
“Trio’s Tuckerman performance holds up against the greatest
As in the previous year, Trio con Brio Copenhagen’s playing was magically fused, technically impeccable, lushly toned or muscularly rasping as called for—altogether a mesmerizing, transporting listening experience.”
WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
“Trio Con Brio sweeps listeners away
. . . a memorable performance . . . The award-winning group, based in Denmark, played with intensity, virtuosic skill and a coherent interpretative arc that unified each work’s musical content . . . The musicians’ organic tonal blend and homogenous interpretative efforts generated a fascination that swept listeners away . . .”
SALT LAKE CITY TRIBUNE
****** [Six Out of Six Stars]
“The words ‘world class’ are easily uttered, can sound clichéd at times, and are clearly inadequate to describe what an other-worldly experience it was to hear Trio con Brio play on Wednesday evening. It was such a superb performance that analysis seems superfluous. The three outstanding musicians have, through their 13-year collaboration, conquered the technical challenges of their repertoire with so much to spare that they have all the time and space they need to refine their sound and—crucially—to penetrate to the essence of the music.”
KRISTELIGT DAGBLAD, Copenhagen
“[The trio] convinced as much by the technical mastery of their instruments as by their artistic expressiveness. Their brilliant and spirited rendition [of Brahms' Trio in C major] provoked tempestuous applause . . . a fabulous concert.”
SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, Germany
“Trio con Brio Left a Lasting Impression in the Wolfgangsaal
It seems to be the still young Trio con Brio’s ambition to do each and every composer justice and to find and express the particular sound universe of each. They can already look back on several prizes and major world tours . . . . The musicians react to each other like lightning . . . pure joy that you carried home with you—unforgettable.”
MITTELBAYERISCHE ZEITUNG, Germany
“Dazzlingly, Flexibly Fantastic *
. . . an amazingly generous concert that deserved an even larger audience than the packed hall could hold.”
“It was difficult to imagine any of the works played any better . . . profound musicianship . . . a magical new world of sensuous sound . . . so full of passion that it held you enthralled from beginning to end . . . The young musicians mingled with members of the audience in the lobby after the concert and seemed as charming off stage as on.”
PENINSULA REVIEWS, MONTEREY, CA
“An idiomatic, free, full-blooded romantic performance that breathed life and fire into the music.”
WOODSTOCK (NY) TIMES
Trio con Brio Copenhagen
Von: Carsten Dürer
Als sich die beiden koreanischen Schwestern Soo-Jin Hong (Violine) und Soo-Kyung Hong (Cello) 1999 mit dem dänischen Pianisten Jens Elvejaer zum Klaviertrio Trio con Brio Copenhagen zusammengeschlossen haben, waren sie noch Studenten an der Hochschule für Musik in Wien. Keiner der drei ahnte zu diesem Zeitpunkt den Erfolg, den dieses Trio innerhalb von nur drei Jahren erreichen würde. Zwar hat das Trio erst eine CD bei einem kleinen dänischen Label mit den Mendelssohn-Trios vorgelegt, aber das liegt ganz einfach daran, dass dieses Ensemble zu beschäftigt mit Konzerten ist, um sich die Zeit für eine CD-Einspielung zu nehmen. Ein Glücksfall, aber auch das Resultat der Lust auf das Klaviertrio-Spiel. Wir trafen die drei sympathischen Musiker und sprachen mit ihnen über die Entwicklung und ihre Ansichten zum Triospiel.
Alle drei Mitglieder des Trios wirken entspannt. Zwar haben sie am Vorabend ein Konzert mit Werken von Haydn, Brahms’ c-Moll-Trio und Dvoráks „Dumky“-Trio gespielt, doch hatten sie die Möglichkeit, am Tag unseres Treffens auszuschlafen und ausgiebig zu frühstücken. Entsprechend locker ist die Atmosphäre. Schnell kommen wir auf ihre Ausbildung zu sprechen.
***** Five Stars (out of Five)
Not since the famous coupling of Isaac Stern and friends . . . have Mendelssohn’s two piano trios been performed with such intensity on disc. If anything the Trio Con Brio goes one better with playing that caresses the lower end of the dynamic spectrum as much as it exalts in the music’s climaxes. Every phrase soars and pulsates with the excitement of a fresh discovery as the Copenhagen players go the full distance with playing of skin-rippling sensitivity . . . Sensational playing from Korean sisters Soo-Jin Hong and Soo-Kyung Hong and Danish piano wizard Jens Elvekjaer.
Hans Abrahamsen, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky: Trio con Brio Copenhagen, Caspary Auditorium, Rockefeller University, New York City.
In the appealingly retro geodesic dome that is Rockefeller University’s Caspary Auditorium, the young Trio con Brio Copenhagen began its program with the New York premiere of Traumlieder for Piano Trio by Hans Abrahamsen. Originally written as piano pieces, the work had a second life as a horn trio, before finding its third incarnation here. The six short movements owe a debt to Webern, with the music often materializing in languid pools, punctuated by silence. A striking “Marcia funebre” seems to linger in the air, and the final “For the children” has bell-like effects for the piano against a backdrop of sustained pianissimo notes in the strings. Abrahamsen is one of Denmark’s most important living composers, making the Trio’s eloquent performance even more welcome, since his work is not often seen on concert programs, at least in New York City.
Beethoven’s famous “Ghost” Piano Trio was packed with confidence, plus meticulous dynamic shading; rollicking sections contrasted with somber ones, almost inaudible (where appropriate). The second movement “Largo” seemed to offer listeners an entrance into a private world, with Jens Elvekjaer, the pianist, offering a ruminative piano line. In the final “Presto,” the trio—with sisters Soo-Jin Hong on violin and Soo-Kyung Hong on cello—showed that delicacy and strength can co-exist, especially in the movement’s exciting canonic entrances.
But the real prize came after intermission: a grandly scaled, dramatic reading of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A minor. In the opening pages, the 1731 Testore cello used by Soo-Kyung Hong was shown at its most soulfully extravagant, and soon joined by sensuous tone from her collaborators. (Her sister uses a 17th century Guarneri violin, and Mr. Elvekjaer is the first Steinway artist from Denmark.) The first movement lands on an ending almost impossibly serene. The fanciful second movement, a theme and variations, shows the composer’s astonishing range, from quietly intimate to sweepingly grandiose—and even a fugue makes an appearance. In the “Variazione Finale” the tempo begins sounding “vivace,” but as the piece nears its conclusion the tempo slows and the energy diminishes, as if life itself is gradually ebbing away. In the final bars, the strings drop out completely and the piano has the last, lone word. The grateful Rockefeller audience waited in silence before breaking out into cheers.
Later I asked some friends why this piece doesn’t show up more often, and the reply: “Too difficult.” You’d never know that from the glowing, effortless reading by these sparkling young musicians.