The Torch is Being Passed
A good tip can be more valuable than gold.
Regarding the recital of the Tetzlaff-Tetzlaff-Vogt Trio (TTVT) presented under the auspices of San Francisco Performances on April 27 in Herbst Theatre, I advised the readers of this blog to, ‘Be There or Be Square’.
The ones that were ‘there, not square’ are the ones that had the good fortune to attend what I consider to be the absolute best classic music concert of the 2018-19 concert season.
I can only second what my colleague Stephen Smoliar wrote in his excellent review of the performance.
With this recital, it has become abundantly clear that the torch is being passed from the Beaux Arts Trio to the TTVT as far as piano trios are concerned.
In its day, there was none better than the Beaux Art. Today, there is none better than TTVT.
Besides Christian Tetzlaff, the two other players in the TTVT are Tanya Tetzlaff, Christian’s sister at cello and Lars Vogt at piano.
The centerpiece of last evening’s program was the Shostakovich Piano Trio in E minor, Opus 67. It came just before the intermission while the audience was still fresh, a smart move since this is a very exhausting piece.
The E minor Trio is a grim business related to the German invasion of Russia in 1941. There also is the further issue ‘discussed’ in the Trio of atrocities committed against Russian Jews by the Germans.
Deeply grieving for the Jews persecuted during World War II, Shostakovich--who was not Jewish-- is said to have adopted a so-called ‘Jewish style’ in many of his works from the 1940s on.
In the E minor Piano Trio, we hear it in the concluding “Allegreto” movement. In the Chamber Symphony, Opus 110A, we hear it in the second movement.
It is heartening that 75 years after the events, three German musicians are touring the world communicating to us in musical terms with unambiguous passion and conviction, the anguish, sadness and horror the genius Shostakovich suffered because of the German invasion of Russia.
It shows among other things that the policies and institutions of the liberal democracies in the post World War II period to reconstruct, rehabilitate and integrate Germany into the world of civilized nations had borne fruit.
It goes further than music. The many positive things the generation of Tetzlaff, born in 1966, are doing is convincing evidence that a ‘anti-nationalist’ policy is the way to go, something the current world—and, especially the United States-- needs to be reminded of.
In what was an extremely well balanced program, the grimness of the Shostakovich E minor was surrounded by other moods-- the joyous Mozart Piano Trio in B-flat major, K.502 to start the evening, and the romantic Dvořák Piano Trio in F minor Opus 65 to finish it.
Still, even when the Shostakovich was concluded, there was to be no escape from the angst and horror of the continuing war against the Jews.
As an encore, Mr. Tetzlaff dedicated the gorgeous third movement of Dvořák‘s Opus 90 (the so-called “Dumky” trio) to the victims of the shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego County the day before the recital.
That the Trio picked this particular event to memorialize underlines that something very positive and worthwhile is happening today in German music circles.
They cared and they showed it.
If Shostakovich’s trio was the most gripping piece on the evening’s program, the Dvořák Piano Trio in F minor was the most moving and beautiful.
Dvořák’s beloved mother had died in 1882 and he started to work on this trio soon after. The third movement thought to be dedicated to his mother’s memory is considered one of the loveliest in all chamber music.
It is marked ‘dolce espressivo’ and the playing was so beautiful, especially by the two Tetzlaff siblings, that it literally brought tears to my eyes. The rhythmic and exciting fourth movement full of folk melodies was a perfect Dvořák ending.
A terrific Dvořák performance and a terrific concert!
Hats off to San Francisco Performances for its early and continuous support for these great German musicians!