Piano Trio in D, Op.70/1 (Ghost)
Piano Trio No.1 in D minor, Op.49
Piano Trio in G minor, Op.15
The Sitkovetsky Trio [Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin), Leonard Elschenbroich (cello) & Wu Qian (piano)]
Reviewed by: Andrew Maisel
Reviewed: 25 May, 2009
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
The Sitkovetsky Trio matches formidable technique with a mature understanding of the music played and a complete lack of any self-indulgence. These three performances exuded commitment and enthusiasm.
Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’ Trio was a performance of youthful passion and energy. The first movement was very brisk but never felt rushed, the swifter tempos adding a feeling of urgency. Wu Qian’s fluid runs on the piano provided a steady platform on which Alexander Sitkovetsky and Leonard Elschenbroich built-on with a rich, warm tone, the three musicians finely balanced. They didn’t linger over the ‘ghost’ slow movement, but their concentrated approach captured its “atmospheric shudderings”. If the finale was taken at breakneck pace, it was notable for precision of ensemble.
The freshness and vitality of the Mendelssohn was a welcome contrast, sounding full of exuberance. Wu Qian’s darting pianism was a delight in the outer movements, all three musicians bringing a joyful sense of music-making. They couldn’t take their foot off the pedal though to fully relax in the second-movement Andante, not quite capturing its lyrical tenderness, the pianist a little short in expression. Elsewhere there was much to enjoy, particularly the long, elegant lines drawn by Elschenbroich, whose richness of tone was a delight throughout.
Smetana’s Piano Trio was partly inspired by the death of his daughter when an infant. A sense of grief is present throughout and Alexander Sitkovetsky beautifully caught the opening cry of despair. Tempos, again, were on the swift side, but this was also a searching interpretation, fully capturing Smetana’s shifting moods from outright sorrow to the wistfulness of the central movement’s two trios and the exuberance of the finale.