Beethoven, Rihm, Dohnányi, Piazzola

A friend invited me to a chamber concert she was giving, which she thought I’d enjoy.  She was mostly right.

The program by the Darian Trio opened with Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Trio op. 9, no. 3, a youthful work that nevertheless showed his genius to come. The second half of the concert had Ernö von Dohnányi’s Serenade, op. 10.  The trio took advantage of the acoustics in an intimate little stone room inside the House of the German Order (i.e., the Teutonic Knights, whose cross was used as the highest decoration of the Nazi Party – maybe an appropriate venue considering Dohnányi’s infamous Nazi sympathies; hard to believe Ernö’s Vienna-born son Hans, father of the conductor Christoph, was executed by the Nazis for his resistance to the regime and involvement in various failed plots to assassinate Hitler, and was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations for helping Jews escape from Germany to Switzerland, all of which I’m sure made father Ernö deeply disappointed). Sound was full and enveloping, but it also meant we intimately experienced the trio’s breathing and heard the not-always clean and crisp release of the notes.

Unfortunately, in between these two works, the trio subjected us to the String Trio #2 by Wolfgang Rihm, who aurally assaulted the audience.  I can take modern, and I can take dissonance, but Rihm’s music seemed designed to torture the eardrums with wild shrieking. Considerations of whether to bring assault charges against Rihm went through my throbbing head.  A short work by Astor Piazzola, from “Spring” in his The Seasons, helped relax the atmosphere as an encore at the end, although frankly the Beethoven and Dohnányi pieces were more showy and inspiring.B

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