Saturday, December 17, 2011

Salon at the Rex: SF Piano Trio

Rex Salon, 11.14.2011 Audience for SF Piano Trio appearance at Salon at the Hotel Rex.I didn't see any empty seats for last Wednesday's Salon at the Hotel Rex. In just 60 minutes, the San Francisco Trio presented a substantial meal of a program. Members of the trio took turns introducing the pieces, & there was a feeling of unanimity in everything they did. They played the 2-movement Haydn Piano Trio in E-flat minor with refinement & tight ensemble. Violinist Axel Strauss makes a robust, continuous sound, & there is a lot of variety in his playing. I was impressed by his fast trills. Pianist Jeffrey Sykes plays pristinely, & he executed crisp, rippling runs. The 2nd movement was agile & playful. The trio as whole sounded verdant in the Fauré Piano Trio. I like cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau's effortlessly deep, plummy sound. He & Mr. Strauss were taut in their many unison passages, especially in the impassioned 2nd movement. Amusingly, the main theme of the last movement seems to be identical to the 1st 5 notes of "Ridi, Pagliaccio." The trio really dug into the music, & their performance was assertive.

The program ended with the trio's own arrangement of Piazzolla's Le Grand Tango. It was strong & sweeping, & the trio did not try to make it sound overly pretty. I hope I did not bother anyone when I involuntarily started rocking in my seat. The performance received a hearty ovation & exclamations of "Whoa!" There was a Q & A afterward, during which someone kidded Mr. Strauss about his "puny Deutsch accent." The trio told us of their interest in performing little-known transcriptions, such as Beethoven's own arrangement of his 2nd symphony for piano trio. I was very glad when they offered to play a Piazzolla encore after the Q & A. We got a lively & urgent, if out of season, Primavera Portena for which Mr. Sykes provided percussion by drumming on the piano lid.
This was the last salon of the fall season & perhaps the last one in the Hotel Rex. In the spring, the salons move to the Hotel Adagio for an all-strings series. I hope they retain their intimacy in the new setting.

§ Salon at the Rex
San Francisco Performances

San Francisco Piano Trio
Axel Strauss, violin
Jean-Michel Fonteneau, cello
Jeffrey Sykes, piano

Joseph Haydn, Piano Trio in E-flat minor (“Jacob’s Dream”)
Gabriel Fauré, Piano Trio in D minor, op. 120
Astor Piazzolla, Le Grand Tango

Astor Piazzolla, Primavera Portena from The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

Wednesday, December 14 6:30pm Hotel Rex


Civic Center said...

Axel Strauss is the bomb, and a great violinist too.

Axel Feldheim said...

I agree! He has so many strengths.

Kimberly said...

Piazzola is a genious, I´m glad you were able to listen to his music. I did it when I was in Argentina. I was staying in this fancy hotel in buenos aires and he performed for a small audience. Thanks to that, I could feel a connection to his music. What an artist!