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January 17, 2012

Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio delivers colorful program at Second Pres

While most of the city was no doubt riveted to the Ravens game Sunday afternoon, classical music fans packed at least two local venues -- Meyerhoff Hall, where Itzhak Perlman was wrapping up his box office-igniting guest soloist/conductor stint with the Baltimore Symphony; and Second Presbyterian Church, where the Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio performed a colorful program.

(I hear that Perlman kept his audience informed of the game's progress, score by score. At the chamber concert, one of the players announced the final result after intermission.)

Although the free admission policy of Community Concerts at Second certainly helps draw people, this was a very big crowd, bigger than the ones I remember seeing in that nave during my periodic visits over the years.

The audience was rewarded with stellar playing from start to finish. The ensemble's name may not roll right off the tongue, but the playing sure hit the spot quickly and easily.

Two trios book-ended the bill, Beethoven's Op. 11 and Brahms' Op. 114. In the former work, the musicians caught ...

the mix of Haydn-esque humor and Mozartean lyricism that mingle so appealingly with the sinew that identifies pure Beethoven. Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein's silken tone and charming way of shaping a phrase proved particularly rewarding.

The brooding beauty of the Brahms trio gave Fiterstein and cellist Amit Peled ample opportunity to spin out songful phrases, which they did to exquisite effect. In both scores, pianist Alon Goldstein was a full-fledged partner, providing an equal share of artistic sensitivity and technical elan.

The rest of the program was designed to showcase the individuals in the group.

Peled's vehicle was a work I've been delighted to hear him deliver before, Five Pieces on Folk Themes by Sulkhan Tsintsadze. The cellist burrowed into this vividly evocative piece with a juicy, enveloping tone and a keen sense of the music's character. It was a bravura performance. Goldstein held up his end of things with aplomb.

The pianist likewise offered impressive support for Fiterstein in a tightly meshed account of the Poulenc Sonata. The players made each harmonic turn speak eloquently, even hauntingly.

Goldstein's solo turn came in four of Chopin's Preludes, which he delivered with a combination of digital polish, warmth of expression (in the "Raindrop" Prelude) and dramatic heat (No. 24). I just wish there had been a full-sized grand for him to play.

All in all, the afternoon delivered chamber music-making of a very high caliber.

As my faithful readers know, I have a hard time ignoring audience behavior -- misbehavior, more to the point. Let me be the first to commend the attentive audience at this concert. Hardly any coughs, even.  But I did encounter something new. Not sure what to make of it, really.

A man and woman in front of me spent the entire two hours reading copies of the New Yorker. The woman did put the magazine down to applaud dutifully after every piece, which I guess was nice; the man never looked up.

Did they mistake Second Presbyterian for a Christian Science Reading Room? Do they just like to hear live music while catching up on periodicals? Is the lighting really bad at home?

I was tempted to ask them, but suddenly the woman switched gears and drew a newspaper out of her satchel. It was a back issue of the Sun, and her eye was fixed on an article by moi. Who was I to interrupt such an enriching pastime?


Posted by Tim Smith at 9:10 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes


I completely agree. These concerts at 2nd Pres are a wonderful treasure. They are always interestingk, often passionate presentations by some of the best performers anywhere. And it's all FREE! What more could anyone ask. I try not to miss even a single one of them.

This particular concert was a particular delight. The performers were excellent throughout, but I especially loved their rendition of the Brahms: passionate, lyrical, risk taking - everything chamber music of this level can and should be.

But the Sulkhan Tsintsadze was a wonder. Unlike you I had not heard this one before and I was blown away. That one movement seemed to be an amazing strumming of the instrument in a way I wouldn't have thought possible. The rest of the movements were all just as exciting and passionate as the first.

I hadn't known this composer before and I will have to look him up. I think I've been missing a wonderful treat and I don't plan to let this gap continue any longer!

I agree that pizzicato movement is very cool, and Peled sure can play the heck out of it. Thanks for the comments. TIM

Thanks, Tim, for your excellent review.
I so very much agree, can't say it better than you or the above written commentary.
BRAVO to beauty which still lingers in my soul.
How very lucky we are.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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