Joy and melancholy, jubilation and drama…. beautiful sound colours and unparalleled freshness

Schwabische Zeitung, Babette Caesar

Three short words best describe the performance by the Monte Piano Trio on Friday evening at the Festhalle: “They are fantastic!”.

This experience was offered by the three exceptional musicians – violinist Francesco Sica, cellist Claude Frochaux and pianist Irina Botan –  who performed masterpieces by George Enescu, Dimitri Shostakovich and Antonin Dvorak under the title “Eastern Voices”. They belong to the ‘créme de la créme’ of young piano trios, showing a wide range of beautiful sound colours and unparalleled freshness.

“Furious” in the sense of “angry” and “wild” is how cellist Claude Frochaux described the fireworks of the Romanian composer George Enescu, particularly the first and fourth movements – the Allegro molto vivace and the presto. Enescu´s Piano Trio No. 1 in g minor begins with aplomb. He was only 16 years old when he completed this composition as part of his studies at the Paris Conservatoire with Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré. His classmate was Maurice Ravel. The work, which has only recently been rediscovered, is special for the trio, as Irina Botan also comes from Romania. One can hear a mature Enescu here, as well as the  influences of Beethoven, Schubert and Mendelssohn.

The trio, which was founded at the Musikhochschule in Frankfurt am Main in 2008, was featured in the closing concert of this season´s Leutkircher Klassik series, and it was clear from the very beginning of the concert that this was going to be an exceptional experience. There were no moments of hesitation, with Irina Botan´s nterpretation of the rhythmical, tempo driven yet furious piano part being transformed into a dance like performance.

The work quickly changes mood and develops into a homogeneous, tightly interwoven body of sound. This compact mix of the three instruments reached such a high emotional tension that it made the audience hold its breath. Even in the narrative Andante one could hear lively and agile passages which were, never the less, incredibly tender. The Presto, on the other hand, was fiery and joyful, with the pianist clearly relishing her exciting part.

Before continuing with Dvorak’s famous trio in F minor op. 65, they performed Shostakovich´s Piano Trio No.1 in C minor op. 8, which he wrote while being a student at the Leningrad Conservatory when he was just 17 years old. He dedicated it to a youthful love which was never returned.

Accompanied by rapturous applause and an explosion of “Bravos”, they returned to the stage for the last piece in the programme – Dvorak’s Piano Trio in f minor, Op. 65, composed in 1883.

The trio brought both joy and melancholy, jubilation and drama, with an interpretation which was immeasurably convincing and clear. The scherzo in the second movement will remain memorable with the slavic dancing swing of Irina Botan`s piano playing. Each note is clearly defined and at the same time the homogeneous cohesion is not lost.

In the Adagio, Sica’s violin sung an almost painfully beautiful melody, before giving it all in the dramatic final movement of the trio.

Translation from review written in German