photo by David Spira

The superb violinist Christian Tetzlaff led the Tetzlaff-Tetzlaff-Vogt Trio with the cellist Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt in a breathtaking performance Tuesday, April 30th at the Newman Center. Christian Tetzlaff was at once a craftsman exhibiting his craft. He swayed with his violin coaxing the exact notes he needed from his instrument, but he dismissed attention. He deferred to Vogt to introduce the encore, a single movement from Dvořák’sPiano Trio No. 4 Op. 90, ‘Dumky.’ When questioned later about talking to audiences he proposed that peformers can shift the focus to the music and the composers.

Indeed the performer is just one participant in a piece of music. Music is heard in a composer’s head, then perhaps a slightly different piece is written down. The manuscript is then interpreted by a performer, and what is heard by each audience member may be altered again. The shifts from composer to performer to the listener’s ear is constant in each hall with its particular nuances. Attendees at Tuesday’s Friends of Chamber Music concert could note the finely tuned acoustics of Gates Hall.

photo by David Spira

The program featured two Romantic era piano trios.  The first by Robert Schumann was both birthday present and one upmanship.  Clara wrote her first piano trio with a final fugue six months earlier. According to Elizabeth Bergman’s program notes, Schumann accepted her effort as a challenge and wrote his Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 63 with a far more intense final fugue.  The supposed competition and the key’s dark tones paled beside the rich romantic melodies. The third movement, Langsam, mit inniger Empfindung – Bewegter, was played as if the musicians were master painters with precise amounts of color on the tips of their brushes.

After the intermission, the trio performed Dvořák’s Piano Trio No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 65 with tremendous control. Lucky for Christian’s sister Tanja and the audience, Dvorak loved cellos. The Allegretto grazioso was laced with a Moravian folk dance. The Poco adagio began with the violin and the cello pairing their intensity into a bewitching rhapsody. Written just two years before his Symphony No. 7, the Trio built a big symphonic sound, at once heroic and ruminating, and then tender and evocative. Brahms’ influence was recognizable.  The final pianissimo from Vogt and Christian Tetzlaff’s pizzicato faded into a void.

Christian Tetzlaff recent recording of the Bartok Violin Concertos with the Helsinki Philharmonic and Hannu Lintu was selected as the Gramophone Concerto Recording of the Year.  In 2017, he released his solo recording of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas on Ondine. Cellist Tanja Tetzlaff has recorded cello works by Sibelius, Grieg and Brahms. She founded the Tetzlaff Quartet in 1994 which will also tour this year. Lars Vogt is both impressario and pianist. He launched a chamber music festival for international artists in Heimbach, Germancy called Spannnungen in 1997. The venue is an art nouveau hydroeclectric power plant. He released a solo Schubert recording that includes the four Impromptus on Ondine in 2017.