The Symphonic Juncture

A [Symphonist]: "The one who is not afraid to raise the primal force."

- Boris Asafiev (1917)

Music à la Carte, Haydn Concert Review

This is a review of Kallos Chamber Music Serie's 'Music à la Carte' Performance of Franz Joseph Haydn's 28th Piano Trio in D Major. You can find out more about the series here.


Franz Joseph Haydn is widely considered the ‘Father of the Symphony/String Quartet' due to his extensive contribution to the genre, along with his other categorical accomplishments. Haydn’s compositional output, spanning approximately 50 years and 772 miles [London and Vienna], is cumulatively diverse, having written no less than 100 Symphonies, 68 String Quartets, and even 32 pieces for Mechanical Clock. Some of his most extraordinary works like The Creation, The Seven Last Words of Christ, and The Lord Nelson Mass, are still globally performed today to critical acclaim, thanks to efforts by organizations like The Handel and Haydn Society with their HIP [Historically Informed Performance] practices, and International Haydn Societies, who host annual Conferences, the American chapter bolstered by their newly constituted, online Journal. In this time of COVID, however, one’s ability to patronize theatres and musical venues has been all but depleted, and artists, as well as audiences, have had to familiarize themselves with digital interfaces instead of Concert halls, and performers, especially, have had to become accustomed to performing in front of screens, which provide little to no direct receptivity. As the disconcerting revelation started to materialize that classical music’s foreseeable future was indeed wholly online, Concert venues, Opera Houses, and Professional Groups of all tiers started the process of carving out their spot in the online sector, thus solidifying a previously under-utilized performance medium, the Internet.

Last week, The Kallos Chamber Music Serie’s, a freshly founded artistic community focused on delivering an ‘intimate chamber music’ experience to their patrons, their performance and work aesthetic akin to Europe’s 17-18th century dignified assemblage, had their first [online] concert entitled, “Music à la Carte,” featuring Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 28 as the featured piece. Performed by the phenomenal talent of Beomjae Kim, flutist/visual artist, not to mention one of Symphony Magazine’s six Young Emerging Artists, Khari Joyner, incredibly accomplished International cellist, and Min Young Kang, award-winning Pianist and recent graduate of the Collaborative Piano Fellowship via Yale University, Haydn’s second of four Trio’s, completed before his first trip to England in 1791, was nothing short of perfection, every semi-quaver flourish and major-minor transition was treated with delicacy and refinement, a characteristic lacking in the realm of everyday modernity. Particularly notable was the Trio’s collective timbral warmth, harmonious cadential mastership, and choice of tempi, which often dovetailed with dynamic variations, themselves being adroitly executed by Min Young Kang, especially the A-major staccato aplomb in the first movement, which quickly transitioned to its minor sister, partnered with a brisk left-hand Alberti bass, Beom Jae Kim’s flawless, grace-note accents, and Khari Joyner’s unadorned, yet formally needed, quarter note heartbeats.

The trios syngericism was distinctly evident throughout Movement One, where blooming rhythmicity folded over itself into creeping chromaticism, only to reemerge as sanguine, melodic restatements, continuously bolstered by sturdy, cello structuralism. In fact, it was given an a-minor ‘voice’ towards the end of Movement One with the other two musicians. But, in true Haydn verbiage, he satirized the very concept of melodic restatement-ism by stopping right on an unresolved e-minor7 chord, only to pivot back into the ‘real,’ C-major melody. Haydn’s early vocal training clearly influenced his formative aesthetic, and quotes like, “Singing must almost be reckoned one of the lost arts; instead of song, people allow the instruments to dominate,” point to Haydn’s vexation at then composer’s ostensible lack of melodic acumen, opting instead for cold, pseudo-Bachian horizontal compositionalism, This is most evident in Haydn’s Movement Two opening passage, a two-part, buttressed, fugue which is first initialized by Min Young Kang’s cantabile subtlety, and it was the fugue’s first note that made me fathom her interpretative prowess. A dainty, barely audible A introduced the d minor fugue, and from that point, once Beomjae Kim’s ephemeral lyricism was added along with Khari Joyner’s tiptoe, chromatic leading-tone staccati, through a series of melodic trade-offs, and sonorous 16th-note flourishes, slowing into a unison fermata’d A, Movement Three sprung out of the languorous melancholy with youthful vigor, here established by Khari’s and Min Young’s unison, D-major, five-note ‘scale.’

In clear-cut Rondo form [ A-B-A-C-A-D-A], Haydn juxtaposes major against minor and utilizes a back-n-forth artistic form, spotlighting a musician, only to reinfuse them into the ensemble [pianist then flutist]. Lest you think he was done, in Haydn’s, idiosyncratic ‘I’m not done yet’ way, he introduces new material, a singing, ‘aria’-like progression which, when developed, gives Beomjae room to truly exhibit his virtuosity through trills, grace-notes, and even a conclusionary, syncopated ‘ta-da.’ Through more chromatic meanderings, handled with ultimate precision by the Trio, specifically between the flutist and pianist, Haydn finally starts to conclude. Here in lies another one of my absolute favorite moments in the Trio, as, in this lengthy conclusion, the pianist is required to have dynamic nimbleness, yet collaborative dexterity. Min Young’s D-major major-third, upward plumes, are punctuated with hearty, cello'd D pulses, the entire scene developing into dynamic oscillations, resulting in a final bloom, signaling Haydn is truly ready to conclude. Again, chromatic instabilities permeate this final section, and if the musicians were not seasoned Professionals, I would indeed worry for them. The scene lookis like this: Min with her evocative, chromatic arpeggiations, Beomjae and Khari supporting with held crescendi lines, which then morph into piano tremolos, thus signaling impending, for certain, temporal finality. Haydn’s finale is prefaced with subject requotationism, but ultimately develops into repetitive, tenuto’d I-V7 [D Major-A Major+G] arpeggios, first given to the Cello and Pianist, then all three performers, before reducing to the Flute and Piano. The last few moments of the Trio are spent reveling in High-Baroque forward-propulsionism, or collective arpeggios, which inevitably climax in boisterous, chordal periods, interspersed with rests to further the euphoric feeling of release.

The Kallos Chamber Music Series's is comprised of 18 musicians, and if they are all like these three, then the future of the Organization is a bright one. Beomjae, Min Young, and Khari have already proven themselves to be exceptional, young talent outside of Kallos, but through their performance of Haydn’s Trio, which could be seen as ‘pedantic,’ ‘Formalist,’ and even stylistically outdated now that music has escaped its phonological definition, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at the cleanly executed performance and the musician’s punctilious attention to dynamic choices and collaborative, solo-ensemble equilibrium. I truly look forward to seeing what ‘Music à la Carte’ has in-store next, although I do hope they temporally venture forward a bit more, because as beautiful as Baroque repertoire is, much of the soiree repertoire was made for Incidental, revelatory purposes and thus, while beautiful, much of the useable repertoire lacks in harmonic complexity, though rectifies the situation with sonic Fabergé. Regardless of musical choices, this is a Serie’s worth paying a small fee for, and their leveled-payment scale makes it easy on the wallet during uncertain times to continue patronizing the Arts. On November 9th, these three [Beomjae, Min Young, and Khari] will be performing Gabriel Pierné’s Op.48, Sonata da Camera, written in 1926 at the height of 20th-century Innovationism!


Upcoming Performances of ''Music à la Carte' [Music on the Menu]

Find out more about Kallos Chamber Music Serie's here!

Nov 9th: Gabriel Pierné: Sonata da Camera

Nov 16th: Philippe Gaubert: Trois Aquarelles (Three Watercolors)

1. Par un clair matin (On a clear morning)

2. Soleil, d'automne (Autumn sun)

3. Serenade

Nov 23th: Bohuslav Martinů : Trio for flute, cello and piano


PC: Atlanta Symphony Opera, Min Young Kang, Beomjae Kim

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