FIRST LUTHERAN CHURCH, TORRANCE — On October 16, the renowned chamber music ensemble Trio Celeste, comprised of internationally acclaimed musicians Iryna Krechkovsky, Kevin Kwan Loucks, and Ross Gasworth, presented an engaging repertoire at First Lutheran Church in Torrance. The musicians played with no conductor during the concert and had freedom regarding tempo and dynamics.

The opening piece “Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90, Dumky” by Antonin Dvorak and arranged by Johannes Brahms, was divided into six movements. Deviating strongly from the traditional sonata form, this work alternated slow, brooding themes with fast, cheerful sections. In the first movement Lento Maestoso, the cello entered first with strong, warm legato bow strokes and the violin joined in with a haunting melody, followed by the piano’s soft accompaniment. In the second movement Poco Adagio, the somber introspective character of the movement later dramatically accelerated into an exciting quick tempo. The third movement Andante featured a ominous atmosphere that echoed the original theme, while the fourth movement Andante Moderato was enlivened by pizzicatos and spiccatos from the strings. In the fifth movement Allegro, the violin set the piece going with a brilliant solo to which the cello responded with complementary harmony. The lines of the two instruments eventually plunged into a busy sea of musical activity marked by jubilant, quick notes. Finally, the last movement Lento Maestoso presented the recurring brooding character and an exciting vivace tempo, culminating in an epic double stop ending.
After a short intermission, the musicians proceeded to play their second piece “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires for Piano Trio: Otoño Porteño” by Astor Piazzolla and arranged by Jose Bragado. Born in Argentina, Piazzolla is credited as the composer who revolutionized the tango music genre. In this arrangement, the trio’s interplaying harmonies contributed to the jazz-like feeling of the music that pulsed with an undercurrent of excitement. While the spotlight first shined on a poignant violin cadenza, the attention later drew to the piano, boasting technical virtuosity, and finally the cello, displaying a rich tone with martele bow strokes. The piece was interspersed with exhilarating passages that resonated with the original tango motif.

For the finale of the performance, Trio Celeste performed “Piano Trio in G Major, Op. 1, No. 2” by Ludwig van Beethoven. The four-part piece varied in speed, ranging from swift, intense passages to delicate melodies. The first movement Adagio featured a lighthearted Mozartlike violin melody with slurs and vibrato. In the second movement Largo con expressione, the graceful and lyrical mood supported all three players in textural balance. The strings played long silky lines while the piano was a serene watery sparkle. The third movement Scherzo gave prominence to the humor of Haydn. The cello and piano exchanged animated conversation, while the violin sprinkled quick lively spiccato on top. The fourth movement Finale featured mirthful exchanges between the three instruments which concluded with a final brilliant chord.

Trio Celeste will next perform the Complete Piano Trios of Beethoven at Winifred Smith Hall in Irvine on December 4.