Lora Tchekoratova Leads a Brilliant Trio in Midtown
On one hand, it’s tempting to keep quiet about the frequent free concerts at the Bulgarian Consulate. Like a favorite restaurant, they seem popular in the neighborhood and with an expat crowd, but otherwise it’s a real surprise that a wider audience hasn’t caught on yet, especially considering how many brilliant performers play there – people who deserve to be far better known as well.
Last night was no exception. Pianist Lora Tchekoratova, who also books the series, performed a program of trios with violinist Georgy Valtchev and cellist Amir Eldan that were rich with intuitive, intelligent and spectacularly virtuosic playing. First on the bill was Beethoven’s Piano Trio, Op. 1, No. 2. Being only the composer’s second published piece, it begins very simply, like a student work. Tchekoratova played it with a perfect, pointillistic precision, as if on a harpsichord. The effect was spot-on, imbuing it with a genuine old-world charm – and although maintaining that effect required intense focus, she made it seem easy. She told the audience that this particular piece showed a young Beethoven emerging from underneath the shadow of Haydn, and to a certain extent, that came through, particularly on the second movement, which as this group did it was almost like a music box, incorporating the violin and cello as partners in spiky counterpoint rather than simply utilizing the strings for atmosphere behind the piano melody.
As precisely as Tchekoratova played that work, she brought the entirety of the dynamic spectrum to Ravel’s Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, from a crushing, fortissimo attack on the dramatic, angst-ridden opening, to the brooding low-register dirge that arrived a bit later on before it rose up again, agitated, with more than a hint of Asian melody. Valtchev’s anxious, expectantly plaintive lines enhanced the mood dramatically. By the end, the crowd was awed
They closed with Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor. After the often harrowing Ravel piece, Eldan offered some welcome comic relief as he explained this one beforehand, gleefully looking forward to the many spotlight passages he had waiting for him. And it turned out to be exactly what he said it would be, a glittering, cantabile suite that moved from a rather towering, angst-driven waltz that finally straightened itself out in the second movement. With the almost labyrinthine beauty of the three voices interpolated within its architecture, the third movement took on a stately power with klezmer allusions (Mendelssohn’s family, though secular intellectuals, were undoubtedly familiar with this music). Tchekoratova led the group on a triumphant race through its long, rippling, crescendoing arpeggios and descending patterns,winding up and out on a characteristically Mendelssohnian, optimistic note. Tchekoratova and Valtchev are frequent collaborators; any opportunity to see them, especially in this particular unit, promises to be a treat.
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