Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Brahms Trio That Didn't Play Brahms

Tonight my friends Mollie and Ruth and I attended the 3rd in the Dumbarton Concert Series: The Brahms Trio. The concerts are held in the historic old Dumbarton Methodist Church in Georgetown. The sanctuary is a warm room with lots of wood and stained glass, a perfect place for chamber music.

The Brahms Trio is made up of very Russian musicians – violinist, cellist, pianist – who all received very classical Russian training. From the name of the group, we expected an all-Brahms program. However, they played an evening of very Russian music: Alyabiev, Shostakovich, and Tchaikovsky. Each of the musicians was superb, but the cellist was the best. I especially liked the pizzicato sections of the first 2 pieces, in which the violin and cello were almost answering each other. All three pieces required a lot of strength. As Mollie said, “The Shostakovich piece really makes your heart race.” But we could never figure out why they call themselves The Brahms Trio!

As I think ahead to tomorrow, when I am joining a class at GWU, which offers the opportunity to play chamber music with other musicians, I found myself wondering what it would be like to do this for a living. I am fairly sure that the other people in the class do music for fun, not as their professions. They are just government workers like me, or physicians, or teachers. So for the Brahms Trio, is practicing like going to work? Do they get stage-fright? Do they resent always being on tour? Do they still get that wonderful surge of good emotion when they make beautiful music together, even if it is their job?

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