Saguaro Trio Scores With Beethoven and Tchaikovsky on Music Guild Summer Series

The hot young ensemble was the Saguaro Trio, formed at Colburn in 2007: its personnel Sunday afternoon were founding members violinist Luanne Homzy and cellist Peter Myers, and pianist Régulo Martinez-Antón. The latter was playing on an interim basis while Myers and Homzy search for a permanent colleague to replace their original pianist John Chen.
I was keenly interested to hear the Saguaro when I read they had studied with cellist Niklas Schmidt, founding member of the Fontenay Trio. I had met Schmidt earlier this year and heard him play at the Casals Festival in Prades. Myers confirmed my impression of a fine musician: "He mostly talked about interpretation of the score, balance, sound, expression and communication."
All of these qualities immediately became in the Beethoven.
Martinez-Antón, Myers and Homzy, on their own, without a recording engineer, created an equal, at times transparent balance; visually, they seemed to be listening to each other intently, not just for show but because they were measuring musically what they were doing very carefully, respectfully and lovingly. Beethoven came to life.
Myers mastered the difficult for cellists key of E flat and produced a smooth firm, singing line that set off Homzy's seductive blend of tawny and Olympian; differences in sound and phrasing played a propulsive role in the ongoing dialogues the players have together.
Homzy and Myers were also totally comfortable when pianist Martinez-Antón, who played beautifully at times with elegant, radiant tone, entered the conversation; all three also matched their energy levels for a brilliant ending to the first movement, one of Beethoven's miracles of musical engineering. Throughout the Beethoven, in fact, there were both moments of spontaneous illumination and perfection of movement, flow and punch line, all emblematic of Beethoven–and the audience–having a good time.
The Saguaro's Tchaikovsky was lighter, more intimate and exploratory.
It took a while at the beginning of Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio Op. 50 for the balance to get sorted out but the Tchaikovsky is around 50 minutes when it is played uncut as the Saguaro Trio played it, and so there was plenty of time for adjustments.
Also, once it was determined that the three young musicians were going to make the Trio more than just the pianist banging out Tchaikovsky's most difficult score and the violinist and cellist hanging on for dear life, the center of interest began to shift to the strings, and leadership increasingly resided in Homzy's Olympian tone which, with silky smooth portamento and lightly-textured sound, was breathtaking at times.
In the eternal second movement, the Saguaro harnessed to a remarkable extent the overwhelming rush of emotions Tchaikovsky asks his musicians to express, and played the popular tunes and dances with a panache and glee that seemed fueled by the audience's enjoyment, as if a new Music Guild relationship had been forged.
Like many young trios, the Saguaro played the music as Tchaikovsky first wrote it, before he cut nearly ten minutes from the last movement based on feedback from his friends and colleagues (one of whom was cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen who five years earlier had made substantial, controversial and many feel unwarranted cuts and changes to Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations). "I guess I can see why someone would want to make the cuts," Myers said, "but they're not what Tchaikovsky wrote!"

Laurence Vittes, Strings Magazine
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