At a loss for words last night, I was left gasping with my fellow members of the audience. We shook our heads and simply said, "Wow". That's how high the quality of the performance of the Duke Trio was. Mark Fewer certainly has his fans and I am among them. I have always enjoyed and admired the energy and precision with which he plays - and he plays such an amazing range of music.
I made an effort to sample the range of opinion in the audience before the concert, during intermission, and afterwards. The most consistent response I got was "world class". People were very impressed with the integrity of sound and how well the instruments married. A lot of folks also commented on the program and how they had never heard these selections before.
After that the opinions started to diverge. I asked people what their favourite piece was in the performance and that's when taste kicks in. I like dissonance so I voted for the Copland. Others voted for the Shostakovich, which was played with a delicious lushness. And still others voted for the Tchaikovsky, which was downright voluptuous. Now back to a majority vote: everybody agreed that they enjoyed the stage manner and presence of the Trio and that broke down to the engaging commentary before the pieces, how the pieces fit together texturally and even the cat-like manner of the cellist, Thomas Wiebe. Few people agreed on who their favourite musician was among the Trio although I did overhear more people say, "whose that pianist?" (Short answer: Peter Longworth.) I can't say I had a favourite because what struck me most was cohesively they played as a unit. I found myself thinking that if Duo Concertante's trademark is how the two instruments support each other this is what the Duo would sound like if it were a trio.