By ANNE MIDGETTE.
Romanticism was one stated theme of the Gramercy Trio’s recital at Merkin Concert Hall on Sunday afternoon. But the big round sounds that predominated on the first half of the program also had in common a quality that could better be described as simplicity.
Take Joaquín Turina’s Trio No. 2, which opened the program. A likable piece, it combines the sort of popular appeal and sophistication that was characteristic of movies of the 1930’s, when it was written: it is both debonair, with unexpected twists, and generously melodic.
For many, the afternoon’s main attraction was the first New York performance of “Lyric Piece” that Fred Hersch, the acclaimed jazz pianist, wrote for the trio this year. Mr. Hersch’s composition was eminently clear: attractive, ably laid out and a little careful, as if written with one eye on the rules. Its backbone, spelled out by the trio’s light-fingered pianist, Randall Hodgkinson, was a tripping theme slightly reminiscent of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel Waltz.”
In the Alfred Schnittke trio that followed, the carousel was running down. The music would grow increasingly fractured, then pull itself violently together in contrasts that led to a deliberately bipolar work.
After the intermission, the deeper intricacies of Schumann’s Trio No. 1 were a bracing contrast. The trio, clearly pros exploring what interested them, gave the refreshing impression that everything they were doing was fun and worth hearing.