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Broad Street Trio Miscellany at Millerton Library Annex

Music Review
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sat May 25th, 2019

Elizabeth Chiney, David Smith, Jay Schulman at Millerton Library Annex

Changing its musical pace of folksong and blues, the Millerton Library Annex under the direction of Rhiannon Leo-Jameson offered a program entitled “Three Centuries of Music for Flute, Cello, and Piano” by The Broad Street Trio. This unusual miscellany of “lost” gems once had more prominence in the traditional repertoire. Away from the well-worn concert circuit, this was an opportunity to hear lilting pieces that once held audiences spellbound, yet now are pieces rarely, if ever, played. The overall program was dominated by pleasant melodies. I had once reviewed these talented players nearly two years ago.

They opened with Georg Friedrich Handel’s Sonata in B minor, HWV 367b (c. 1726). This mid-career trio work in seven movements was originally composed as a recorder sonata in D minor with harpsichord accompaniment; it appeared piratically in 1730, being transposed to B minor for continuo bass and violin accompaniment (with the third and fourth movements omitted). This work remains the most elaborate flute work Handel ever wrote as chamber music, and it provides an opportunity to hear the master at work in this genre. At nearly fourteen minutes long, it showcased Elizabeth Chinery, principle flutist of the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, on flute accompanied by Jay Schulman on cello and David Smith on Privia keyboard. This work is sometimes performed with organ accompaniment, yet the organ tends to drown out the flute. Here there was good balance between keyboard and cello support that permitted the flute line to shine melodiously.

Less well-known Is Phillipe Gaubert’s Deux Esquisses (1914). This flute and piano work in the Impressionist manner painted a languorous plain at sunset and then an Oriental dalliance at sunset. This West-East diptych once more highlighted late Romantic melodies that might make you swoon on your fourth or fifth brandy after midnight. Similarly, Ballade by Charles Édouard Lefebvre, whose important handbook on melody, had a profound influence on Fauré and others, plunged into the world of reverie. Chinery introduced the work as “Impressionistic painting with water-colors instead of oil.” The Ballade was an original invention by Chopin, so Smith on keyboard had an opportunity to lead with authority while Shulman sensitively supported on cello and Chinery delivered that Impressionistic blurring.

Tanzlied des Pierrot, an aria from the third act of Erich Korngold’s opera Die Tote Stadt (1920), performed when Korngold was only twenty-three; this allowed Schulman to dominate on cello with his attractively warm sound.

Joseph Haydn’s Trio in D major, Hob. XV:24 (1795) was saved for the finale; this is Haydn’s penultimate sonata trio which contains deep mellow pensiveness. One wonders if this reflective plangent mood supplies a confession of daydream homesickness, as this was written toward the end of his tremendously successful London tour, yet even more likely, this piece might be lament in reaction to the news that Haydn’s young friend Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had died in Vienna. Here the ensemble played with tight unity.

For encore they played an elegiac tango by Brazilian Antonio Carlos Jobim, who died in New York City in 1994. This was an unpretentious and pleasant evening. I hope that this musical series at the Annex schedule more classical music events.