Intersection trio plays with verve at Flagler MuseumBy Joseph Youngblood — Special to the Palm Beach Daily News February 24, 2010
Dazzling! is the first word that comes to mind upon experiencing a performance by Intersection. These three young musicians — violinist Laura Frautschi, cellist Kristina Reiko Cooper, and pianist John Novacek — enthralled the audience Tuesday evening at the Flagler Museum.
Intersection is a piano trio, but its concerts are unlike any that I have heard by other like ensembles. Accessible appears to be the key word in their program building. Traditional piano trio repertoire is present, but those works are balanced by compositions that are lighter, shorter, and readily understood and enjoyed. Besides trios, the programs also included duos and solo works.
The major work on this program was Trio No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 66 by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). It was preceded by Salut d'Amour by Edward Elgar (1857-1934), and followed by Je te veux by Erik Satie (1866-1925), Introduction et Tarantelle, Op. 43 by Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908), Grand Valse Brillante, Op. 34, No. 2 by Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), Requiebros by Gaspar Cassadó (1897-1966), and Carmen Suite by Georges Bizet (1838-1875), arranged by Satoh.
The members of Intersection play with exuberance and verve. Their dynamic range is broad, and changes in dynamics are instantaneous yet natural sounding. The overall tone is full and unbridled. There is in their playing drama and excitement, but there is also joy, a love of music and a love of playing together. They are giving a concert, but they are also having fun.
Salut d'Amour is a short, very lovely piece. The players phrased it lovingly, and the piano was nicely shaded.
The Mendelssohn trio is a large, diverse work. We notice that each player is in full control of his instrument, able to execute the subtle phrasing and the carefully worked out dynamics. The broad first movement was so dramatic and moving that many members of the audience applauded. Close communication and tight balance characterized the andante, which is similar in nature to Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words. The scherzo, was taken very fast, yet the players were smiling and enjoying themselves. The finale was big in scope, with excitement building to the end.
All of the pieces on the second half of the program were played from memory. Je te veux ("I want you") is a lilting waltz with precision phrasing. Introduction et Tarantelle was a duo of violin and piano. Frautschi's warm tone and clean technique were apparent here, with the blinding speed and the many high- level violin effects. The Chopin waltz was a piano solo that Novacek played rather straight-forward, with only a touch of sentimentality. Requiebros (the name is derived from the verb requiebrar, to woo) was for cello and piano, and showed off Cooper's beautiful tone and brilliant technique. The music of Carmen Suite is derived from Bizet's popular opera. This clearly exemplifies music that is easily understood and enjoyed.
The encore was Intoxication, a rag by pianist John Novacek. This lightning fast piece was notable for its remarkable ensemble.
Intersection is highly artistic in its playing and thoughtful in its programming. This combination produced an exhilarating, challenging and satisfying concert.
I have rarely heard anything like it.