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Princeton Summer Concerts Presents The Gryphon Trio in Summer Series

Nancy Plum

The Gryphon Trio, comprising violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon, cellist Roman Borys, and pianist James Parker, named itself after a mythical guardian of treasures. The Trio's performance in Richardson Auditorium last Thursday night, as part of the Princeton Summer Concert Series, was by no means mythical, and their choice of repertoire indicated that they are indeed guardians of musical treasures. Their presentation of the music of Mozart, Dvorak, and Canadian composer Christos Hatzis, provided a refreshing musical break in a summer week.

The Gryphon Trio is a personable group – Dr. Parker was more than happy to update the audience on the family lives of the players. The close bond among the players was clear in their communication with one another. Cellist Roman Borys was always looking around at his fellow players, timing his ornaments and dynamics exactly. This was especially apparent in Mozart's Trio in B flat, whose first movement Allegro included a great deal of interplay between piano and violin. Dr. Parker provided very light piano, and the entire ensemble used the acoustics of Richardson well. The crescendos in the development section of the first movement were especially well brought out. Throughout the three movements of the Trio, the players functioned much as an opera ensemble, with emphasis on different instruments at different times and a great deal of playfulness.

The Trio has made a commitment to contemporary music in general and Canadian contemporary music in particular, commissioning a number of composers, including Christos Hatzis, whose music is inspired by world cultures and the Byzantine heritage. Constantinople is a work for mezzo-soprano, Middle Eastern singer (alto), violin, cello, piano, and electronic audio-visual media; for Thursday night's performance, the Gryphon Trio excerpted "Old Photographs" from this 80-minute, eight-movement work. "Old Photographs" began with the piano playing to set the mood for what could easily have been a musical backdrop for a film. One heard the cello for the first time with a solo melody, well balanced against a fluid piano. With a number of parallel dissonances and a pace which evoked motion, one wondered what the subjects were of these old photographs. The shifting moods of the music showed a definite influence of jazz, one of Mr. Hatzis' acknowledged inspirations.

The Gryphon Trio closed their polished and refined concert with Dvorak's Trio in e minor, a six movement work nicknamed the Dumky Trio, and one of the most beloved trios in chamber music repertoire. The movements contain a great deal of ebb and flow, and the trio moved through each section effortlessly. The work shows the influences of Dvorak's Czech and American roots, including a very broad Bohemian style and piano playing which seemed to emulate bells. Although only three musicians, the Gryphon Trio's presentation of this work was never boring; they always found new ways to communicate with one another through the evening.

The Gryphon Trio has been touring since 1993, and by chamber music standards is a young ensemble. However, their discography is impressive, and it is clear that these three players are well molded together as a musical unit. Princeton audiences were lucky to hear them this summer, and hopefully they will be regulars to the area.

The next performance in the series will be by the Miro Quartet on July 14. Free tickets will be distributed at 7 p.m. on the evening of the performance. For information call the Richardson box office at (609) 258-5000.


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