Review: Morgenstern Trio

The Morgenstern Trio

Ensemble Music Series

Indiana History Center;

Nov. 17

Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884) is known principally for his

tone poem "The Moldau," from his My

Fatherland cycle (referring then to Bohemia, now the Czech Republic) - and,

to a lesser extent, his String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor ("From My Life"). His The Bartered Bride also figures

prominently in the opera repertoire. But I don't recall ever witnessing a live

performance of his Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 15 (1855). That was corrected on

Wednesday, when the Morgenstern Trio of German players - violinist Stefan

Hemple, cellist Emanuel Wehse and pianist Catherine Klipfel - gave us their best

contribution in the second of Ensemble Music's five-concert series. They've only

been at it for some five years, already getting notices praising their ensemble


Op. 15 ended a program which included Debussy's early Trio

in G and Mozart's late Trio No. 6 in G, K. 564. And it was with the Smetana

that all three players gelled into a well-integrated ensemble, the strings and

keyboard giving us a unified picture of a strongly impassioned Romantic chamber

piece. Klipfel provided the galvanizing factor in her beautifully sculpted

keyboard work, but Hempel and Wehse showed equally assertive control when their

parts called for it.

Though Klipfel maintained her high pianistic level in all

three pieces, the string players seemed slightly off their stride in the

Debussy and Mozart, in which rough tones, slightly missed pitches and a lack of

balance invaded their playing. I thought Klipfel was the "star" - till I

experienced the Smetana. That is when I realized the group deserves its general

accolades; they just had a bad start.


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