Geoff Nuttall loves Joseph Haydn.
"I need Haydn-aholics Anonymous," he quipped as he introduced Program III of the chamber music series on Monday.
Surely, anyone in the audience who wasn't a Haydn fan became one after Pedja Muzijevic's performance of the Sonata in G Major, a relatively short piece in two movements. Muzijevic paced the first movement Allegretto nicely, though he seemed to anticipate what was to come, hurrying into the spirit of the Presto a bit early. The second movement highlighted the pianist's skills, with remarkably even runs and spot-on articulation.
Second on Monday's program was Michael Colgrass's "Hammer and Bow," composed for violin and marimba. Nuttall invited musical (and non-musical) couple Mark Fewer and Aiyun Huang to perform it, and together they demonstrated the conversational cadences of an emotional exchange. Neither the violin nor the marimba create a particularly big sound, a fact that solidified the intimacy of the conversation that Fewer and Huang brought to life.
"It's like chamber music as relationship advice," Nuttall said. "You have to have the ability to listen while showing something at the same time."
Gyorgy Kurtag's "Hommage a Tristan" is a 55-second reduction of Wagner's opera for English horn and bass clarinet. James Austin Smith and Todd Palmer each played a few bars, seated on opposite sides of the stage in dim lighting. Despite their limited stage time, the pair delivered their lines with careful attention detail that would please the notoriously exacting composer.
The highlight of the program was the finale, Felix Mendelssohn's Piano Trio in D Minor Op. 49 No. 1, performed by Livia Sohn (violin), David Ying (cello) and Inon Barnatan (piano). In his introduction to the piece, Nuttall noted that the original score for this piano trio was much simpler; Mendelssohn received criticism for not featuring the piano enough. He answered that challenge with formidable additions to the piano part. Barnatan, so brilliantly delicate in Program I, returned in Program III with his impeccable nuance. The trio attacked Mendelssohn's fun work with thrilling pizzazz. At the final cadence, the audience leapt from their seats as if poised on springs, and rightly so.
Sarah Hope is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.