Close encounter with the Poulenc Trio
Hard as I try, I still can't take in all of the musical activity in the region. One ensemble, in particular, has eluded me for a few years now. Seems like every time the Poulenc Trio scheduled a concert, it was up against something else that, for one reason or another, took precedence.
I finally caught up with this oboe/bassoon/piano ensemble Sunday night in the intimate upstairs salon at An die Musik, arriving a wee bit late, when they were about a dozen measures into a work by the ensemble's namesake, Francis Poulenc. His writing for these three instruments is as brilliant as it gets; heck, everything by Poulenc is brilliant, in my book.
The players -- oboist Vladimir Lande, bassoonist Bryan Young, pianist Irina Kaplan Lande -- were particularly impressive in the bittersweet Andante movement. Some portions of the boisterous outer movements did not sound tightly meshed, but things were clicking together smoothly in the Trio by Jean Francaix, a score that shares the energy and wry wit of the Poulenc piece, if not the distinctive streak of dark lyricism. There were warmly molded phrases from Young and Vladimir Lande in the second movement (harder to achieve, given how cold the temperature in the concert room) and lots of panache from all three musicians in the finale. Here and there, I wished the pianist could have produced greater dynamic nuance, but she was always on the same basic wavelength as her colleagues.
The program also offered a charming, lightweight work by early 19th century oboist and composer Henri Brod and some fun, tango-flavored items by Astor Piazzolla (in one of them, ably joined by violinist Anton Lande).
All in all, an entertaining evening with an ensemble that offers equal doses of polish and personality.
Photo courtesy of Poulenc Trio