Capitol Trio showcases classical repertoire with piano, cello, and violin

Last Thursday evening, the College hosted a beautiful music performance by visiting group Capital Trio in the Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall. The trio of pianist Duncan Cummings, cellist Şölen Dikener and violinist Hilary Cummings, performed a classical program of Beethoven, Smetan and Dvorak.

Duncan Cummings and Dikener formed the group, originally called Cecilia Piano Trio, in 1997 and were joined by Duncan Cummings’ wife, Hilary Cummings, in 1999. Once formed, the group traveled from New England to the Midwest giving master classes. The Trio, most notably featured as soloists with orchestra in Beethoven’s “Triple Concerto,” performed new pieces and standard trio repertoire.

The musicians later reestablished themselves at the University at Albany–SUNY under their new name, Capital Trio, to reflect their reemergence as a New York-based group. Both Duncan Cummings, now in his seventh year on the faculty, and Hilary Cummings, teach master classes, give lectures and coach chamber music at University at Albany in addition to performing in the trio. Dikener works as a cello and bass professor and director of the symphony orchestra at Marshall. He also directs an international summer music academy and chamber music festival in his home country of Turkey.

Since their first performance in April of 2008 in the New York capital region, the Capital Trio has toured the southern United States, New York and New England. In 2011, the group embarked on an international tour, visiting England, France and Switzerland. The Capital Trio’s first CD, A Book of Hours, was released in 2011 and their recordings of David Walther’s trio, The Other Way, is to be released later this year.

Though the Capital Trio’s repertoire is broad and varied, Thursday’s program showcased a set of traditional, classical trio pieces by three of the most well-known composers of the 19th century. The evening began with Beethoven’s Sonata in C Major for Cello and Piano, performed by Duncan Cummings and Dikener. The sonata began gently with a beautifully flowing andante and progressively picked up speed and intensity, turning into a feverishly angry A minor movement. An ornate adagio movement followed, ending with a series of stops and starts, which aided the movement in building suspense and propelling it toward its abrupt finale.

The second piece was Smetana’s Z Domoviny, performed by Hilary and Duncan Cummings on violin and piano. This piece’s title translates as “From My Homeland,” referring to Smetana’s connection to Bohemia. The first movement, a moderato, exuded a sense of longing or lament, most strongly felt by Hilary Cummings’ part on the violin, which sharply contrasted with the deep, rich register of the cello in the prior Beethoven piece. The second movement began with a greater sense of urgency and then falls into a slower moderato, which achieved a dream-like quality through a conversational echo of the piano and violin. The piece evolved into an intense presto and ended with a rapid, dramatic finish.

After a brief intermission, the Trio returned to play their final piece, Dvorak’s Piano Trio in E Minor, this time performed by all three members. The piece is unofficially called “Dumky,” which refers to the Ukranian “Dumka-Shumka” idea of contrasting moods. As a reflection of this idea of changing moods, Dvorak includes changing tempos and character in each of the six movement as opposed to changing the moods of each movement separately, having some slow and some fast. As a result, each movement is its own “Dumky” within the greater “Dumky.” Each contains a unique swirl of moods from a slow, defeated sounding march, to a hopeful progression into what sounded like a trot. The music slowed and quickened, saddened and uplifted, halted and echoed. The piece was a perfectly thrilling, soothing and satisfying end to a beautiful program.

Not only were the pieces themselves well chosen and pleasing to the audience, but the performers played them with feeling, evoking and communicating the emotion of the music that sprung from the notes. Overall, the Capital Trio put on a spectacular performance of a wonderful program that showcased the strength of their trio repertoire and the skill and unity of their group.