Dallas — The Feb. 10 performance in the Blue Candlelight Music Series, held in the beautiful home of Richard and Enika Schulze, was a well-attended evening of beautiful music. Dubbed “What’s in a Title?,” the program brought together three piano trios from the Classical and Romantic periods performed with thoughtful artistry.
Italian pianist Alessandro Deljavan joined the series for a third engagement, and it is immediately evident why. His exuberantly expressive style is a hallmark of his sound, and it blended expertly with violinist Gary Levinson and cellist Allen Steele.
The first half of the program saw Haydn’s Piano Trio in G Major, Op. 39. Known also as “The Gypsy” or “Gypsy Rondo,” due to its quintessentially Hungarian finale, it is one of Haydn’s most well-known works. As the genre originates from the Baroque era trio sonata, which most often featured the violin as a soloist, this piece opens with Levinson’s fervent violin on a series of variations. His execution was attentive and commanding, leading the trio with a musical sense of drive. The second movement offers a delightfully warm contrast in E major, with a slower-moving poco adagio, but it is the third movement that marks this piece with life and piquancy. Here, the violin offers a brilliant, frenzied precision in its dance that gives the work its name, and Levinson performs it with marked effect.
Also in the first half was Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 70, No.1. Nicknamed “The Ghost” for its spooky largo movement, it calls more heavily on the cello as a featured instrument. The three musicians are notably conscious of the intimate space, as the first movement featured a wide and effective implementation of dynamics. With its wonderful metric complexity, the Allegro vivace con brio gives bright contrast to the eerie second movement. Here, in the Largo, Steele’s cello weeps in sympathetic collaboration with Levinson’s violin. Their blend is startling and unnerving in its depth, with the three moving ably through stark dynamic transitions. Deljavan is brilliant in the Presto, bring another bright, contrasting bookend to the darker second movement. He plays with a joviality that almost belies his technical precision while a boisterous cadenza in the piano provides a rousing conclusion to the work.
The second half of the program was devoted to Antonin Dvořák’s Piano Trio in E Minor Op. 90, No. 4, or Dumky. It is a work that deviates from all of the norms of its genre, both in its overall form and the structure of its movements, of which there are six, each with its own distinct middle section. There are as many moods as there are movements throughout this piece, if not more, giving each player ample moments of shining brilliance. Steele’s cello wails painfully in the Poco adagio, while Levinson rips through the texture of the Allegro with a wrenching solo line in the movement’s middle, and Deljavan is explosive in the work’s opening Lento. The final movement, Lento maestoso, utilized an unsettling tremolo in the cello that layered the foundation with a chilling drone.
It was an eclectic display of musicianship and art. The Blue Candlelight Music Series’ goal of bringing exquisitely interpreted chamber music to the community was certainly met in this performance—a well-thought out program executed with expressive precision by three accomplished artists.