A veritable potpourri of popular classical music poured forth from the Intersection Piano Trio on November 17 at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church. The group was in town to perform for the Tuesday Musical Club, and they brought a hometown favorite to the stage with them. Christine Lamprea, a YOSA alum and former student of Camerata San Antonio's Ken Freudigman, subbed for the trio’s regular cellist, Kristina Cooper, who had just given birth a few days prior. Christine got the nod thanks to violinist Laura Frautschi, who had worked with her before.
“I showed up and we were discussing ideas,” Lamprea said after the concert. “They were flexible, and I was flexible, and this really felt like I could own some of the performance. So it was really a pleasure.”
The program was chock full of hooks and beautiful melodies, everything from the fiery “Spanish Dance” of Manuel de Falla to the romantic Nuevo tango of Ástor Piazzolla, and a fun medley of songs from Bernstein’s West Side Story. Since its founding in 1998, the group has made it a core component of their programs to keep the show moving, rather than present an entire trio.
“We sort of view it as our mission to do Classical Pops style programming, bringing lots of different kinds of genres to make it a really fun program, accessible, and multi-stylistic,” explained Laura Frautschi.
Adding to the relaxed atmosphere were the group’s comments from the stage, and even a wardrobe change during intermission that signaled a looseness in the second half of the show that brought elements of jazz and improvisation into the program through pianist John Novacek’s arrangement of George Gershwin melodies, and a rendition of Vittorio Monti’s “Czárdás” that even nodded toward “The Godfather” and drew a laugh out of this radio producer. Novacek added that in some venues, the group even uses lighting effects to highlight the different moods of the program.
I asked Novacek about one potentially controversial statement that was included in the liner notes for the program—writing on Felix Mendelssohn, Novacek called him the “greatest prodigy in Western music (including Mozart).”
“Well, I would not like to get into an argument dealing with geniuses of that level!” Novacek responded with a laugh. But he did bring it up by writing it, so…
“I guess Mendelssohn wrote pieces as great as he ever wrote in his life by the time he was 16. I don’t think people would say that about Mozart. And I’m not saying that Mendelssohn became as great a composer universally as Mozart, but when he could write things like the Overture to A Midsummer Nights Dream or the Octet when he’s 16 years old, in a sense Mozart had not created a masterpiece quite at that age. But he created some wonderful music, and they were both extraordinarily adept at a lot of instruments. So either way you look at it, those kids were crazy talented!” Novacek said.
Excerpts from Mendelssohn’s “Piano Trio, Op. 66” were a highlight of the program, closing out the first half of the show. You can hear one movement in the Soundcloud link below.
Lamprea, by the way, wasn’t Intersection’s only connection to San Antonio. Novacek told the audience of nearly 200 at Laurel Heights that his adopted daughter is from the Alamo City, and that he loves to bring his family to visit any chance they can get.
You can hear the Intersection Piano Trio in concert this Saturday night, December 12, at 7 p.m. on Texas Public Radio’s “Performance Saturday,” broadcast on KPAC 88.3 FM and KTXI 90.1 FM.