The Trio rehearsed until the last moment on the Conservatorium Theatre’s stage. As a consequence, ticket holders were allowed in only minutes before the programme began. Was there something amiss? An uneasiness lingered as cellist Bartholomew LaFollette tuned up again before the programme began with Rachmaninov’s Trio ElegiaqueNo 1 .But, when LaFollette played the theme, first heard on the piano, with a glassy faraway look and invested it with soulful meaning the audience was in the Trio’s thrall.
LaFollette and Alexander Sitkovetsky are brothers-of-the-strings. Melodic fragments are transferred with seamless connectivity. The gutsy pianist Wu Qian with her relentless drive and stamina delivered Rachmaninov’s rippled virtuosic challenge from the depths of the keyboard to the top with miraculous precision. She surfaces from the sea of sound to sing and falls back into a supportive wash of swirling piano in a blink.
The first half’s melodramatic serving of tragedy and visceral protest, Russian-style, was a stunner. There were no boring drifts. No throwaway segments in which thoughts can wander and dreams unfold. The Sitkovetsky don’t let their listeners off the hook. And their zest for high drama resonates in unusually prolonged endings.
In the Piano Trio, Op. 67, written by Shostakovich in...