Palm Beach Daily News

March, 2020

The Flagler Museum presented the final concert in its 2020 series on Tuesday evening in its beautiful West Room. The museum adds carpet under the audience seating for these particular events, and while perhaps used to protect the historic flooring, was a brilliant tactic in containing the booming acoustics of the room.

The Claremont Trio began with a piece by Nico Muhly, entitled “Common Ground.’’ The work presented fascinating timbre combinations over transformations of simple harmonies.

Cellist Julia Bruskin and pianist Andrea Lam combined in some of the phrases to create a mesmerizing texture, particularly on the low notes. The gilded Steinway has a muted quality in its lower register, however combined with the unique acoustics of the room, it made for a truly immersive sound experience. We did not hear a dry concert grand in a big hall as the sound mix was something acoustically special.

Julia Bruskin is a phenomenal artist. Each bowing, plucked glissando and punctuated slide was executed with perfection and tuned so that beginning and ending pitches on the longer gestures fit exactly into the overall texture of the music. There were no flippant attempts at extended techniques, only precision. Muhly should be thrilled with this performance.

The program continued with the “Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, op. 63’’ by Robert Schumann, and its beautiful rolled chords between violin and cello. Violinist Emily Bruskin bowed with evenness and flowing beauty through the triple stops and crescendi. She showed her prowess with a pristine interpretation of this work in period.

Julia Bruskin stated the main motives in a sonorous low register on her cello, and later came back with clear counter melodies that we relished, as these are often buried in a muddy performance with other ensembles. But, here, in this venue, with these outstanding musicians, we heard every blessed nuance Schumann intended.

Emily Bruskin gave a beautifully passionate solo at the beginning of the “Langsam, mit inniger Empfindungen movement’’ answered by the cello in a strong countermelody. Pianist Andrea Lam prolonged the beauty of the movement with ending touches on the instrument that were so soft and refined, one would think she already had a lifelong relationship with this specific piano.

The Claremont Trio crafted a unison drive at the end of the “Mit Feuer movement,’’ with a restatement of the main themes that was pure perfection.

After a brief intermission, the “Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano No. 1’’ by Franz Schubert finished the program. In the andante movement, Lam began a gorgeous solo, which Julia Bruskin soon joined by spinning out the cascading counterpoint. The virtuosity with which they finished each movement should have sent us to our feet, and this feeling makes an audience question why we ever agreed to suspend appreciation between movements in first place. The Claremont Trio certainly made us question why.

By Sarah Hutchings