On Feb. 23, Shepherd students and community members were treated to the sophisticated string sounds of the Merling Trio. The Merling Trio is an instrumental chamber string ensemble, featuring violin, cello and piano players currently in residence at the School of Music at Western Michigan University. Shepherd University was one of the many stops on their busy cross country tour schedule.
The Merling Trio opened the concert with Haydn’s “Piano Trio in G Major”, featuring the Adanto, Poco Adagio and Finale movements. The Poco Adagio truly showed off the skills of violin player Renata Artman Knific. The Piano Trio is often nicknamed the “Gypsy” trio because of the folk dance, lively ending, which sounds like gypsy band music. The audience definitely enjoyed the upbeat Finale.
After the opening, the group introduced themselves and informed the audience about the styles of music they frequently perform and the history behind some of their popular performances. They proudly mentioned that this ensemble has been traveling and performing together for the past twenty five years and have performed in forty out of the fifty states, not to mention performing internationally. It was also a pleasant surprise to discover that pianist Susan Wiersma Uchimura and cellist Bruce J. Uchimura are married.
The next performance of “Hungarian Dances” Numbers 10 and 11 by Johannes Brahms was another upbeat gypsy-styled dance. The group truly displayed their excellent blend and timing as they raced through the lively folk dances. The group mentioned there is only one printed edition of the Hungarian Dances in the world. The printed edition is not allowed to leave the Hungarian Music Library, as an explanation of why the group was playing the piece from photocopied sheets of music.
The Merling Trio closed Act I of the concert with a performance of “Invierno Portena” and “Primavera Portena” by the more contemporary composer Astor Piazzolla. The two pieces contrasted by displaying musical sounds of falling snowflakes in the “Invierno” (Winter) and musical sounds of rising flowers and falling rain in the “Primavera” (Spring).
Act II opened with a stunning performance of Dvorak’s “Piano Trio in E minor” which truly showcased the talents and virtuosity of pianist Susan Wiersma Uchimura. The group then performed probably the most popular and well-known piece of the evening, “Autumn” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. The audience reacted extremely positively to such a well done and beautiful performance of this famous chamber piece.
The Merling Trio concert closed with another work by Piazzolla, the “Otono Portena” and the “Verano Portena”. This upbeat, distinctive piece was a perfect closing, displaying the group’s phenomenal ability and displaying a little-known work that was a unique mix of the “new tango style”, classical music and jazz.
The Friends of Music Concert Series presentation of the Merling Trio did not disappoint. It was a fantastic evening of familiar and well performed chamber string pieces by a group of very talented musicians.