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Walsh-Drucker-Cooper Trio: Reviews

A WORK OF JOY AND BEAUTY

In Haydn’s C major trio joy and beauty embraced each other and carried us all not to the seventh heaven, but to an eighth where at least I had never been before. This eighth heaven contained that exact moment where God received the idea and the inspiration to create a dramatic earth of joy and beauty. Haydn conceived the creation; Drucker, Walsh and Cooper let us into it.

In this small piece Haydn created the greatness of classical music in its purest form and being. This small piece is the pulse, the heartbeat.

With Camille Saint-Säens’s Violin Sonata in D minor we so to speak came back to the earth again. Saint-Säens is the master shapes, but Eugene Drucker penetrated the surface and created with an almost magical tone a work of well formed sensitivity – perhaps a strange way of putting it, but I believe that the majority of those present understand what I mean.

And then Schubert’s Trio in B-flat major constituted the end of this utterly unforgettable concert. The slow andante movement contained perhaps the utmost climax. The mellow fervour was so intense, that one could not help crying.

The unique acoustics of Stoense church has been emphasized again and again, and it remains a fact that it hardly has its equal anywhere in the world. I am convinced that it is due to the peculiar construction of the chancel behind the musicians.

The world is filled with an immense amount of wars, violence, revolutions, malignity and political torture. This concert in Stoense church brought us to believe that there also exists a world containing joy, beauty and love.

Svend Erik Sorensen - Fyns Amts Avis, Denmark

WORLD CLASS PIANO TRIO 

Each summer musicians of the absolute elite play in Stoense church on Langeland for a very large and faithful audience, and the artists are happy to return.

This concert was no exception. Eugene Drucker, founder and member of the world famous Emerson Quartet, has formed a trio with his wife, the cellist Roberta Cooper, and the pianist Diane Walsh-- and what a wonderful constellation!

The program consisted of two of the best known pieces in the trio-literature, and a very rarely played Dvorak trio, F minor, opus 65. Dvorak's sense of the orchestra is strongly expressed in this trio, and the four movements show nerve and broad symphonic themes.

The three instruments are equal partners, each instrument finding its own course, but retaining respect for the message and dynamic of the other voices. The trio played its Dvorak technically perfectly. Rarely, if ever, have I heard the high range of a cello sound so much like a viola. Roberta Cooper's playing was bewitching, and Eugene Drucker's violin was also transformed to a viola in the deep tones of the beautiful adagio.

But perhaps one might argue that the trio was playing with a rather analytic and intellectual attitude with the result that the more emotional aspects occasionally vanished.

Before the intermission Beethoven's Ghost Trio made a huge impression with its explosive passages in the beginning and in the somewhat sinister second movement, where the agitated rumble of the piano and the peculiar bowstrokes go on and on until the piano itself blows the ghosts away in the third movement.

Diane Walsh is a divine and inspired pianist, which she showed already in Mozart's wonderful E-major trio. She breathes life into each tone with a super soft touch and a knife-sharp precision while respectfully listening to the other musicians: now it is your turn; now it is my turn to have the tune and tell the story.

All three of them played brilliantly, continually showing creative power while leaving room for each other.

A Mendelsohn scherzo was the encore--fairies were dancing and butterflies fluttering.

Mikael Krarup - Fyens Stiftstidende, Denmark

TRIO'S SHOSTAKOVICH AT NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

Pianist Diane Walsh, violinist Eugene Drucker (a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet), and cellist Roberta Cooper played at the National Museum of Natural History on Saturday. Formed in 2001, the trio gave stellar accounts of three works for their combination: Shostakovich Op. 67 in E minor, Mendelssohn Op. 66 in C Minor and Mozart K. 542 in E major.

Composed in 1944, Shostakovich's heady work offers bleak, unforgiving testimony to the atrocities inflicted on Russia during World War Two. It is not simply the music's staggering rush of pathos and outspoken grief that overwhelm the listener. The musicians dove far into the music's unrelenting rhythmic drive and razor-sharp linear logic that pulls you into the midst of the action. A searing, high-pitched cello opened the plaintive Andante, the sonic effect slashing through the soul. Walsh's percussive keyboard sharpened even more the bite of the bows in the finale's sardonic dance, its tension never resolved.

Coupling Shostakovich's tragic narrative with the Mozart and Mendelssohn is a daunting challenge, for the last two speak languages of earlier eras. Unlike Shostakovich, Mozart etched his piece with nuanced delicacy, the players attending to its graceful inflections and pellucid textures.

By contrast, Mendelssohn's piece begins with an agitated Allegro roiling in a sea of emotional cross-currents, the turbulence continuing through to the finale.

NEW YORK TRIO DELIVERS PASSION, EXCITEMENT IN SUNDAY CONCERT

The Unitarian Church was filled with the power and passion of Mendelssohn Sunday afternoon, as well as a capacity audience. Cellist Roberta Cooper, violinist Eugene Drucker and pianist Diane Walsh played with the technique, musical cohesion and sensitivity to give this Romantic masterpiece its grandeur. Walsh plays with an unusually clean sound and sure technique; Drucker has a warm and sensual sound and overt expressiveness; while Cooper has a warm sound and a direct expressiveness. The trio's approach was direct and simple. They were clearly listening to each other, and they were living the music as they played it.

Jim Lowe - Times Argus, Montpelier, VT

It was world-class music making that would have been welcome in any music hall on the globe. From the opening notes of the Haydn Trio in e minor, there was an active, involved musical communication going on....and intelligent shaping of the melodic content that in no way obscured the clarity of the discourse. Walsh played with restraint and polish. Drucker proved scrupulous in his attention to musical rhythms and values and ... clean crisp technique. Cooper displayed a rich but not overpowering sound. [In Bartok's 1921 Sonata No. 1 for violin and piano] Drucker's tone was in its element, and his laser-clear delineation of the work's staggering complexity was a marvel to hear. Walsh was with him every step of the way; her sound palette broadened to accommodate everyting Bartok asked for, from rippling impressionistic effects to crashing, grinding chords. After intermission, Cooper rejoined her colleagues for another superb performance, this time of the infrequently heard Dvorak Trio in f minor. This performance was filled to the brim with honest and compelling musical communication. Walsh showed strength, finesse and a wonderfully involving range of tonal shadings at the keyboard. Cooper's beautiful sound production and soulful approach was a wonderful complement to Drucker's analytical but emotionally involved playing. There was a near-instantaneous standing ovation.

Chuck Klaus - Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY

The major work...was Beethoven's Piano Trio in E-flat Major, Opus 70, No. 2, a substantial work from the composer's middle period that is full of power. Monday's performance reveled in Beethoven's passion and grandeur. Pianist Diane Walsh played with clarity, power and rhythmic freedom; Drucker added his silky expressive tone lyrically, while Cooper delivered expressiveness and substance. The three were obviously comfortable with this music, and that allowed them to deliver its power... [T]hey seemed to delight in Beethoven's contrasts and suddenness, ending with a rousing finale. [In] Haydn's charming Trio in f-sharp minor, Hob. XV: 26, written just 16 years before the Beethoven...the trio's performance was cohesive and hearty. The slow movement, Adagio cantabile, was particularly expressive and lyrically beautiful. Drucker and Walsh offered a passionate performance of Serge Prokofiev's Sonata in D Major, Opus 94a, for violin and piano. Drucker successfully contrasted the salty virtuosic passages with beautifully lyrical ones. Walsh delivered drive, clarity and power, and the result was quite exciting - save for the sensual and lyrical slow movement - Andante.

Jim Lowe - Times-Argus, Montpelier, VT

The Cello Sonata in E minor, Op. 38, of Brahms was given an effective performance by cellist Roberta Cooper and pianist Diane Walsh. Cooper displays a lovely, generous tone that contrasted nicely with Walsh's crisp keyboard clarity. Their moderately paced traversal of one of two Brahms cello sonatas was a lyrical view of this work. Violinist Eugene Drucker, of the Emerson Quartet, was Walsh's next partner. Their collaborative effort was the Prokofiev Sonata in D, originally written for the [flute] but reworked by the composer and master violinist David Oistrakh. Drucker was more than equal to the challenge and an ideal exponent for this piece. His technique showed him capable of tossing off the most formidable phrases with ease, and his steely tone perfectly fit Prokofiev's sound world. Walsh was a great asset here as well. Lesser pianists too often attack the challenging keyboard part with sheer volume and clangorous, ill-defined energy. Walsh's performance of this challenging score was all clarity and lucidity. The duo was awarded a long ovation.

Chuck Klaus - Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY

Walsh's flawless finger work, pellucid tone and sheer performance elegance set a high standard for festival performance. Cooper's lovely tone and warm phrasing toed that Mozart line of clarity. The [Strauss Violin Sonata] is active, leaping, athletic music--a technical minefield-- but Eugene Drucker conquered it with apparent ease, as well as executional grace and an overriding sense of good taste.... Walsh took the somewhat Herculean piano part and made it sound if not easy, at least convincing and well-balanced...Drucker and Walsh's performance tamed the work and rendered it honestly and compellingly.

Chuck Klaus - Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY

Faure's large-scale Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano proved a worthy vehicle for Drucker to display his talents as a soloist...His technical skills, as you might expect for one who sits upon the throne of arguably the best professional string quartet today, are superior--nailing the lively octave passages in the opening movement with ease of fingers and pitch and spinning out the tricky dotted-rhythmic figures of the charming opening melodic passage in the finale with grace and ease. Diane Walsh, the remarkable pianist...hung onto the violinist's every phrase, creating a deep and spontaneous synergy.... Walsh...was especially impressive in the Mozart Piano Trio in E major, which opened the program and with which she stole the show with her elegant delicacy of tone and graceful virtuosity in the many ornaments in this work. Indeed, she can breathe magic and anima into even the most innocent-sounding phrases--such as the busy, rococo tune of the slow movement, in which she executed the busy turns and trills in the most tasteful manner.

David Abrams - Weekend- The Syracuse Newspapers, Syracuse, NY