A full audience bustles into Mallory Hall on a rainy December afternoon with anticipation for the thrilling sounds of Nicholas Pappone (violin), Grace Mei-En Ho (cello), and Candace Chien (piano); all of whom are seasoned veterans of The Mallory Concert Series at Rutgers University: Camden. The expectation is obvious with the lack of seats available that the concert will be captivating. As the air turns to a silent empty hum, we are ready. Personally notable movements from the first piece of the program, Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 2, are Andante and Vivace.
Pappone, “lauded as a ‘first rate’ violinist by Maestro Lorin Maazel” and founder of the non-profit Delius Music Academy (Mallory Concert Series Program), executed technique perfection from my hearing. His pianoforte was divine and every note softly washed over the audience with pitch precision. Moving from the second to the third movement there was an exaggeration of sad drama. Even by looking at the instrumentalists faces it was clear this was far from an upbeat movement; as the three instruments meshed together in a gloomy way to match the weather.
The end of the selection seemed to involve a lot of staccato from the violin and piano, and their whispers took a sharp turn to a forte ending; the silent audience turned to applause. The three stood to take a bow, and it was impossible to not notice how young all of the musicians were; such an accomplished group of people. The second selection Piano Trio No. 39 in G Major, Hob. XV/25, “Gypsy” was unlike the first. A much more upbeat sense of emotion (although for some reason I prefer the darker music).
The first movement Andante was still paced slower, but the content was much brighter. My favorite part of this piece was the second movement, Poco adagio cantabile. The cello and violin accented each other in the most beautiful way. It was almost as if the notes from the two instruments were singing to each other; harmonizing in a spectacular way. The vibrations did not match identically, but were held together in a way that was meant to be. The third movement, Rondo a I’Ongarese : Presto, I believed the piano was highlighted more so than all the previous selections.
A quick, bright melody that had the piano leading the cello and violin around. Then, the highlight shifted to the violin with peaks of velvety sounds. Throughout it seemed these two passed the spotlight back and forth. The theme of this movement repeated in an interesting variety. The first movement of the third selection Piano Trio in A Minor, Modere was ear-catching. If I closed my eyes I could imagine being in the middle of a fairy tale full of whimsical wonder at the very moment before something terrible was about to happen.
The cello’s momentary solo emphasized the minor’s dark way in a beautiful string of deep notes. Then all three instruments race together into an amazing crescendo; after, they softly fall back. The violin starts to tell the audience a beautiful somber story with assistance from the cello. As the movement creeps to an end the instruments softly fade out. The second movement, Pantoum (Assez vif), starts with a burst of nontraditional excitement. The three instruments mimic each other including breaks in sound.
Then, a pattern starts as the low notes from the piano and cello flow together until the violin begins with higher notes taking the piano with it. A memorable part of this movement is when the violin began to pluck in staccato with the quick notes of the piano. Passacaille (Tres large) is the third movement that starts with a very low and slow piano solo; then adds in the cello after a few minutes which increases the intensity. Once the violin enters the music feels so heavy, as if all of us in the audience almost have to hold our breaths from the sadness and tragedy that is being displayed.
As the movement goes on the notes get higher, but are not relieved from any seriousness. This is an amazing example of how music can display tone without a single word or explanation. Grace Mei-En Ho, “an active soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Asia”, executes excellent technique during the extremely low parts of this movement. This movement was my favorite because it invoked an intense feeling that I could easily see wasn’t only felt by myself.
The last movement and piece of the concert, Final (Anime) starts with a much faster tempo then the previous. All of the instruments seem to be displaying higher energy and flair especially at the point when the piano goes up the entire keyboard. At the very end Chien dances up the keyboard as Pappone fiercely places into the final note. The audience bursts into one last applause. As I look around we are all more than satisfied with the performance. The sounds from the concert will play in our heads for the rest of the rainy afternoon and evening.