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story.lead_photo.caption The Eroica Trio ó (from left) Sara Parkins, violin; Erika Nickrenz, piano; and Sara Sant'Ambrogio, cello

It took a physical and financial collaboration between two organizations -- the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, opening its 2019-20 season, and the Acansa Arts Festival of the South, in the midst of the first of two weekends of widely lively offerings -- to bring in an A-list ensemble Thursday night to Little Rock's Ron Robinson Theater.

Near the top of the A-list when it comes to name-brand threesomes is the Eroica Trio -- Sara Parkins, violin, in a lemon-yellow gown; Sara Sant'Ambrogio, cello, in mauve; and Erika Nickrenz, piano, in aqua, whose height made it necessary to put the piano bench up on "blocks." They were top-notch, mostly, in a mixed-bag program that excited the not-quite-capacity but comfortably hall-filling crowd.

The concert was a hit; if I were a judge at a chamber-music competition, I'd give them high marks for musicality and showmanship. (Showwomanship?) But Parkins was a bit off her "A" game Thursday night -- I'd have to take off points for her small trail of odd intonations and occasional note slips.

The first half of the program consisted of works not originally for piano trio, starting with a blow-out performance of Anne Dudley's expansive arrangement of the "Chaconne" from the d minor Partita No. 2 by J.S. Bach. Hearing Dudley's reconstruction into three voices for a piece originally written for a solo violin was an eye- and ear-opener. The same goes for the trio's own arrangement of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Vocalise. And the trio just zipped on through the Porgy and Bess Fantasy, Kenji Bunch's repackaging of music from George Gershwin's opera.

Zippy tempos and plenty of musical drama were the hallmarks of the Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, op.8, by Johannes Brahms, arranged by -- well, Brahms, who late in his life rewrote this, one of his earliest chamber pieces, thus giving it equal measures of youthful exuberance and autumnal musical economy. The playing, a couple of violin notes excepted, was brilliant and the dynamics and balance were exceptional.

Metro on 09/20/2019

Print Headline: MUSIC REVIEW: A-list Eroica Trio hits from Bach to Brahms


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