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Gerald Carpenter: Amerigo Trio Coming to the ‘Mountain’ in Ojai

The exciting chamber music series Chamber on the Mountain presents its next concert at 3 p.m. Sunday in Logan House (adjacent to the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts in Upper Ojai).

The Amerigo Trio — featuring Glenn Dicterow on violin, Karen Dreyfus on viola and Inbal Segev on cello — will perform Sunday in Logan House in Ojai as part of the Chamber on the Mountain series.
The Amerigo Trio — featuring Glenn Dicterow on violin, Karen Dreyfus on viola and Inbal Segev on cello — will perform Sunday in Logan House in Ojai as part of the Chamber on the Mountain series.

The featured artist will be the Amerigo Trio (Glenn Dicterow on violin, Karen Dreyfus on viola and Inbal Segev on cello).

Dicterow is a name to conjure with, particularly in chamber music circles, and he could probably fill a medium-size concert hall by himself. Segev and Dreyfus are, as of this writing, considerably less widely known. But an artist of Dicterow's Olympian stature would scarcely commit to a permanent, named partnership with musicians he was not prepared to meet on the level and part on the square.

A trio is a three-legged stool: If one leg is weak and gives out, you all end up on the floor. I think we'll find it an equal three-way split when it comes to divvying up our applause, as if we could do such a thing, since the whole point of a trio is that the three become one. (Lest I get lost in religious analogies, I’ll leave it at that.)

The Amerigo's program consists of four works: Franz Schubert's String Trio in Bb-Major, D 581 (1817); an arrangement for string trio of Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg-Variations, BWV 988 (selected movements); Jean Sibelius' String Trio in G-Minor (1894); and Ludwig van Beethoven's String Trio No. 5 in C-Minor, Opus 9, No. 3 (1798).

The stranger at this party is Sibelius. The trio is a work of youth, and I can almost see him picking the manuscript up with every intention of tearing it in two — before, on second thought, shrugging and tossing it into a drawer. There's not much to it, but what there is, Spencer Tracy would say, is choice. It is like a laboratory of musical effects and melodramatic gestures, and if we never quite get anywhere, there are many fleeting pleasures to be had en route. He imparts the same feeling of spaciousness — of the space between things, of limitless vistas — with three instruments that he would later achieve with a hundred.

The works Beethoven produced after 1800, when he was in his 30s, are palpably greater and possibly more profound (if "profound" means anything in musical terms, which I doubt), but those he wrote up to that time seem to me to possess an ebullient purity and freshness that he never recaptured, once the Furies got hold of him. When he was 16, Beethoven wrote three miraculous piano quartets — "WoO 36, Nos. 1-3 — that sound as if he were channeling the first day of spring. The Trio that the Amerigo will play comes at the end of this youthful outpouring. He is already becoming more serious (more adult, you might say), but much of his glorious youth shines through and a kind of glow emanates from the work in performance: Beethoven the Magician at the end of his apprenticeship.

Tickets to this concert are $25, and reservations are available by phone at 805.646.9951 or online by clicking here.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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