“The Prague String Trio performs at the Embassy of the Czech Republic, Tel Aviv”
On January 14th 2016, the Prague String Trio gave a recital at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Tel Aviv. The trio is supported by the Dvořák Foundation for Young Musicians. Members of the trio are violinists Pavel Kirs and Sang-a Kim (Korea) and violist David Schill. All three young are seasoned soloists and chamber players, with David Schill an accomplished orchestral player; the three are presently studying for artist diplomas at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, Tel Aviv. Founded in 2012, the Prague String Trio won 1st prize and invitations for more recitals at the International Competition for Chamber Ensembles at the Burg Kniphausen Academy, Wilhemshaven, Germany. The trio plays at major Czech festivals and at other international festivals. Its concerts are broadcast by the Vltava Czech radio station.
Mr. Arthur Polzer, press-, scientific- and cultural attaché of the Czech Embassy in Tel Aviv, opened the evening with words of greeting and information on the trio and its members. Pavel Kirs also offered some explanations on the two works on the program.
Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904) composed his Terzetto in C major opus 74 in 1887, at the height of his career. It came about by dint of circumstances: the composer’s mother-in-law rented a room to a chemistry student Josef Kruis, who was taking violin lessons. He was sometimes visited by Jan Pelikán, a string player in Prague’s National Theatre Orchestra, who was possibly his teacher. Dvořák, who enjoyed playing the viola, wrote the Terzetto within seven days, with the aim of playing it with them. As it turned out, the work was too difficult for the student and was premiered by players of the Prague Chamber Music Society. At the Tel Aviv concert, The Prague Trio gave expression to the work’s lyrical, sweet-toned flowing melodies and warm harmonies, together with its gently melancholic appeal, keeping a careful distance from over-sentimental playing. The graceful and indeed dense Larghetto gives way to a Scherzo rich in surprises. Following their spicy performance of the third movement Furiant with its vivacious Bohemian dance mannerisms, the players gave the final movement’s recitative-like, harmonically mischievous (original but folk-like) melody and variations much variety of mood and texture; the movement plays out major-minor ambivalence. David Schill highlighted the composer’s skillful working of the viola line, the role of which would ordinarily have been played by the ‘cello.
Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) composed the Serenade for string trio opus 12 at a traumatic time of his life. Together with Bartok and Dohnányi, he had taken part in the so-called “musical directorship” in the 1919 Hungarian Soviet Republic, for which he became resented after its suppression by the rightist regime. He was blacklisted and performances of his works were banned. For two years he disappeared from the national- and international music scene. His teaching post was restored in 1922. The Serenade for Two Violins and Viola, one of the few important works written from 1919-1920, takes its inspiration from the treasury of folk music Kodály had collected together with Bartok. In the opening Allegramente, the Prague String Trio wove in Hungarian folk melodies with driving energy, to be contrasted by an expressive viola melody. The players proceeded to address the mystery and anguished agenda of the second movement – Lento ma non troppo – its disturbing pianissimo tremolo passages played by the 2nd violin (Sang-A Kim) and providing a haunting harmonic framework to the quasi-dialogue between 1st violin (Pavel Kirs) and viola (David Schill). This personal utterance takes the listener to the depths and despair of the composer’s mind. Then, creating much interest with the energetic Vivo movement, characterized by tempo contrasts, its variety of textures and rustic references to Hungarian folk idiom, the three artists brought the work to brilliant close.
With their musicality and outstanding ability, members of the Prague Trio, engaging in one of the less common trio combinations, collaborate closely to strike a fine balance between intelligent, carefully detailed performance and the spirit of music as derived from its folk sources, its influences and the composer as a person. The Tel Aviv Czech Embassy hosts recitals on a monthly basis.
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Photos: Arthur Polzer