Peabody Trio program offers youthful and mature Mahler
Thanks to the Mahler centennial year (he died, much too young, in 1911), his music has been performed even more often than usual. No complaints about that, of course. We diehard Mahler-ites never entirely get our fill.
The composer has been getting a lot of attention at the Peabody Institute lately.
Tuesday brought a welcome opportunity to hear the single surviving movement of his A minor Piano Quartet, composed when he was about 16; and the "Kindertotenlieder," one of Mahler's most personal and affecting works.
The quartet fragment reveals very little of the composer Mahler would become, but it sure does proclaim a very serious talent.
All of about 16 at the time, Mahler had absorbed the harmonic language of the German romanticists and had a good grasp on the principals of thematic development. In this fascinating memento of his youth, Mahler may have ...
The moody music inspired an absorbing, sensitively nuanced account from the Peabody Trio, joined by violist Maria Lambros. The quality of performance made you wish all the more that Mahler had completed the quartet.
Earlier in the evening, the trio's pianist, Seth Knopp, accompanied baritone William Sharp in "Kindertotenlieder."
Better known and more richly vivid in the orchestral version, these bittersweet songs on the loss of children can work well in the more intimate setting.
Sharp, a superbly communicative vocal artist, reached deeply into the heart of the texts as he sculpted the melodic lines.
The higher peaks of those lines necessitated some switches to falsetto that didn't always come off smoothly, but that was of little consequence given how affecting the baritone's interpretations were.
I wish Knopp could have extracted more tonal warmth out of the piano, but his playing was always supportive. His eloquent phrasing at the close of the final song proved especially satisfying.
Music of Ravel framed the evening. I had to slip out before the A minor Piano Trio that capped the concert, but I did hear Violaine Melancon and Natasha Brofsky give a well-meshed, expressive performance of the Sonata for Violin and Cello at the start.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PEABODY INSTITUTE