The Atlantic Piano Trio—composed of pianist Chiharu Naruse and Bowdoin faculty members violinist Dean Stein, Chamber Ensemble Director, and cellist Christina Chute, Applied Music Instructor—reunited this past Saturday with a program of works by Debussy, Brahms and Shostakovich for an audience in Studzinski Recital Hall.
The trio, which formed in 2005, has been slowed down since the pandemic. But with this performance and one upcoming at Bates, they have been speeding back up.
Chute hopes that the concert was a chance for audience members to rediscover the joys of live music post-Covid.
“I hope that the audience had a chance to listen to some really cool pieces and enjoy live music,” Chute said. “And just that they had a chance to be a part of that.”
Chute began playing the cello at Oberlin College, where she was a violin major. Her love for the cello began accidentally.
“I was hanging out before a recital at Oberlin, and I said to the cellist, ‘Can I try your cello?’ just for fun,” Chute said. “I decided ‘Oh my god, this is the instrument I want to play.’”
Each of the composers featured in the program played with the classical form in unique ways. Chute characterized all of the works as expressive.
“I think one of the things that ties all the pieces together as a program is where the composers were in their lives when they wrote the pieces,” Chute said. “Debussy and Brahms were kind of nearing the end of their lives and were quite well-known. Shostakovich wasn’t near the end of his life, but he had definitely developed his own sound.”
Chute had never played the Shostakovich piece before the concert, and it became one of her favorites.
Dean Stein, the violinist of the trio, said that the Shostakovich piece was meant to be the centerpiece of the concert. The piece itself delves into the horrors of World War II, despite having some seemingly upbeat sections.
“Even when the music is smiling, it is twisted and cruel,” Stein said. “That’s one of the great puzzles of music in the first place: How does [Shostakovich] transmute these feelings and thoughts that he has and turn them into notes so powerful?”
Stein praised Shostakovich’s compositional prowess.
“There’s this feeling of how he demands a total commitment from you that maybe pushes beyond most other composers in the sense of sometimes leaving you drained, because you’ve given everything you can to it,” Stein said. “You just leave the stage feeling like you’re consumed by his world.”
Stein’s love for music was on full display during Saturday’s concert.
“You’re never done. It’s what keeps musicians young,” Stein said. “Sometimes you feel like a beginner all over again. And you’re just growing, and you’re a part of a big tapestry of music.”