DSO Closes Its 16-17 Season at Gold Ballroom

Gold Ballroom at the Hotel du Pont IN Wilmington

This article originally appeared on Delaware Arts INfo Blog.

One of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra’s greatest strengths is its roster of talented musicians that can be called upon to organize performances in a wide range of complexity and moods in a single evening.

The result is often a delightfully strange assemblage of pieces and the orchestra’s final chamber series concert of the season — “David Amado and Friends” — in The Gold Ballroom of the Hotel du Pont was one of the most curious, featuring Schubert’s richly lyrical Piano Trio No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 99, Shostakovich’s polystylistic Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 67 and Ysaye’s virtuosic Sonata No. 4 for Solo Violin

The first item on the program — the Ysaye Sonata — was also the most notable outlier. Though not as well-known as Nos. 2 and 3, this sonata is fiercely expressive and violinist Erica Miller captured its virtuosity perfectly. Her mastery of the instrument was complete: her downbow attacks were strong, her intonation precise. She took a rhapsodic approach to the opening Allemnda, showed a reverent calm in the Sarabande and delivered the pyrotechnics of the Finale with poise.

The rest of the pre-intermission portion of the concert was taken up with the Shostakovich trio, one of his most enduringly popular compositions. It was written in 1944 in memory of one of the composer’s closest friends, polymath Ivan Sollertinsky, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack that same year. Shostakovich had also lived through the siege of Leningrad and his anxiety about death permeates the entire work. 

Cellist Naomi Gray opened the trio with a note that would be challengingly high, even for a violin. Gray succeeded in striking a delicate balance between beauty and pain which continued as the other instruments joined in. Violinist Luigi Mazzocchi executed the relentlessly jabbing notes of the second movement without sacrificing clarity or intonation. DSO Music Director David Amado’s dramatic phrasing and scrupulous attention to dynamics carried the third movement which consists of a series of heart-wrenching variations over the piano’s bass line. The work culminates in a dance-like finale which features Shostakovich’s first use of Jewish klezmer music, a reference to the influences of the Holocaust around him. The performance concluded with barely audible notes in each instrument’s highest register, moving the whole affair into a different realm. 

After intermission, the musicians offered a glittering performance of Schubert’s Piano Trio in B-flat Major, D. 898. This piece was a perfect showcase for the players’ keen sense of ensemble. The performance was a true dialog between piano and strings as well as between the strings themselves. The first and second movements featured song-like phrases from each other players while the scherzo received a sense of urgency. The Rondo finale was full of surprises as the musicians accommodated the sudden accents, key changes and false endings that permeated the movement. 

All in all, the trio played with a joyous emerging that brought Schubert’s trio and the concert — and season — to a rousing conclusion.