Ulf Klausenitzer and Hartmut Krause, violins

Rüdiger Clauss, violoncello

Lin Lin Fan, piano

The concert on 16 January at the Kala Academy flagged off a week-long Musikfest celebrating 60 years of Indo-German friendship and the golden jubilee of Goa’s liberation.

It is a curious oddity of history that that trio-sonata, once the most common chamber-music form of the 17th and 18th centuries, should be so neglected today. Hearing two of them in short order, was therefore, a rare treat.

Despite a tenuous beginning, the ensemble quickly rallied to deliver an engaging account of Gluck’s Trio-sonata no. 5 in E flat major for 2 violins and continuo (provided here by piano and cello). It certainly gave the lie to contemporary Handel’s catty remark that his cook knew more counterpoint than Gluck!

This was followed by a trio-sonata in C major for the same forces, hitherto spuriously ascribed to J.S. Bach (and entered in the Schmieder catalogue as BWV 1037) but now thought to be composed by Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, his pupil. Nevertheless, the nod to the master is evident, with the opening theme reminiscent of the famous Air on the G string, and the jolly Gigue called to mind the last movement of Bach’s A minor violin concerto. Could master and pupil have worked together to write this charming work?

Both trio-sonatas were a little bottom-heavy, with Clauss’ cello rather overpowering in places. A harpsichord in place of the piano would have given better “fish-bone” (Klausenitzer’s analogy) stylistic articulation as well.

Clauss’ cello sang with a warm, rich sonorous tone in Tchaikovsky’s Nocturne Op. 19 no.4. Chabrier’s Habanera was a good example of the obsession French composers of the time had with Spain. It was rendered here by Clauss and Fan with great flair and charm.

Bohuslav Martinů’s Sonatina for 2 violins and piano was written in 1930, and seems to reflect some of the restlessness and angst of the Depression years, especially in the first movement. The pizzicato punctuation of melodic phrases in the third movement had a touch of wit and humour about them.

Last on the menu, we had two movements from Shostakovich’s Five Pieces for 2 violins and piano. The first, the Prelude, was played with much passion, feeling and sensitivity. The melodic lines from the two violins virtually cavorted across the auditorium in the playful Polka.

The encore was the fourth movement (a Waltz) from the same work by Shostakovich.

It is a pity that sound-bleeds continue to occur into the Dinanath Mangueshkar indoor auditorium of the Kala Academy during performance. This exquisite concert was marred by the din from the Lokutsav in the outdoor parking lot. Certainly with some planning, one can ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

(An edited version of this article appeared in the Navhind Times Goa India on 17 January 2012)