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The Joy of Music

Prometheus Trio performs elegant, varied program at the Conservatory

Dec. 18, 2013
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Prometheus Trio gave another literature-rich concert at the Conservatory of Music last week. Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra principal horn player Matthew Annin joined trio regulars Stefanie Jacob (piano), Timothy Klabunde (violin) and Scott Tisdel (cello).

This was the first opportunity I’ve had to hear Annin in a small hall in chamber music. The warm acoustics of the charming Conservatory of Music recital hall, flattering to any instrument, allowed for up-close appreciation of the virile elegance of his handsome tone and clean playing. Annin joined Tisdel in Three Songs for Marlboro, a 1962 composition by David Amram (b. 1930), who had a relationship with the MSO in the 1970s and ’80s. This unusual instrument combination works quite well. An improvisatory quality comes through in this good-natured dialogue between horn and cello, though the pieces run on a bit longer than the ideas in them can sustain. Tisdel got a choice solo in a quasi-jazz section in the third piece of the set.

The Brahms Horn Trio (piano, horn and violin) is one of the composer’s most attractive chamber works. The ensemble was best in the fiery lilt of the second movement, the sympathetic phrasing of the Adagio third movement, and the happy gallop of the finale.

Beethoven’s Trio in C minor, Op. 1, No. 3 is full of ear catching invention, especially in the variations of the second movement. The Trio’s quiet beginning and ending are arresting. Martinu’s Duo No. 1 (1927) for violin and cello presents innovative loveliness. The more Martinu I hear, the more I admire the different-drummer individuality of his music.

The Prometheus Trio performances are solid and interesting. Its programming has always displayed tasteful curiosity. Jacob’s joy in music making, ever evident, is one of the group’s most engaging qualities. There were spots in the Beethoven Trio and Martinu Duo which would have benefitted from more refined tuning.

Tisdel has regularly made fetching arrangements of rock-era material as encores. His arrangement of the Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows” made for a warm send off into the cold night. 


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