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CHAMBER REVIEW

J. Guggenheim, C. Sindell and Hamilton Cheifetz March 8 at Spring Lake Village

FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 8, 2019

Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility.

Four short pieces made up the first half, beginning with Handel’s G Minor Passacaglia for violin and cello in an 1897 arrangement by Johan Halvorsen. The variations were briskly played with much pizzicato and high register violin sound from Carol Sindell. Catalan cellist Gaspar Cassadó’s transcription of the intermezzo from Granados’ Goyescas followed, which cellist Hamilton Cheifetz announced was a piece familiar to him for decades, but only recently learned. Mr. Cheifetz’ tone was round over pianist Janet Guggenheim’s tremolos in the bass, and the juxtaposition of instrumental sonority was fetching.

Mr. Cheifetz introduced the Haydn Divertimento (arr. Piatigorsky) by speaking about his teacher Janos Starker, and the three section work began with a slow adagio rich in bottom register cello sound. The concluding allegro was played vigorously and with a lilting character. Ms. Guggenheim was a fluent and attentive pianist in this sparkling music.

Mendelssohn’s ever-popular D Minor Trio, Op. 49, was the concert’s chief work, and received a reading with a range of moods. Slow arpeggios in the piano part supported the opening melodious theme from Mr. Cheifetz and the music was alternatively melancholy and dramatic, though the violin part was not prominent and not always clear. Ensemble in the andante’s heart-on-sleeve was excellent. Surprisingly Ms. Guggenheim found some inner voices in the yearning romanticism, but as throughout the 1839 work little interest was shown in extended ritards.

The scherzo always has an “only Mendelssohn could have written this” effect, and the Florestan played it very well with small murmurs of appreciation from the audience. Musical momentum carried into the dance-like finale but here clarity was cloudy as the piano part tended to overwhelm the strings, especially when the violin needed more sonic projection. Phrasing was conventional and the attractive second theme was warm and compelling. It was a muscular interpretation of the Mendelssohn first Trio that at the same time was tastefully orthodox.

Prior to the Mendelssohn Ms. Sindell and Ms. Guggenheim played the John Williams theme from the movie Schindler’s List, and the lament of the beguiling composition moved over a long line to a beautiful ending high e note in the violin.