A Tale of Three Trios at Drew University

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
Members of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (the CMS) performed its final concert of the season on April 20, 2024, at the beautiful Concert Hall at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.
You may believe that the musicians performed three trios only. Au contraire, mes amis! Yes, three trios by Beethoven, Bruch, and Mendelssohn were indeed performed. However, a piece for piano four hands by Brahms was delightfully added into the program. 
First, let us discuss the ravishingly beautiful Concert Hall, a sparkling, wooden ark of sonic splendor, with a taut fabric ceiling creating a golden tan sail (sea?) for a ceiling, with a sculptural ship skeleton floating amidst its glowing waters. This, along with the wooden walls creates an especially felicitous acoustic ideal for music-making. Why, oh why, Drew University, do you not return to your pre-Pandemic slate of programming? It is a crime against the Muses, against Art itself that this beauty lies idle for months on end. This concert was packed to the rafters, so it cannot be idle for a lack of area interest. Madison is an economically upscale hamlet where money appears to be no object, evidenced by the magnificent estates it enjoys. If such wealth is abundant, then surely the citizens can afford the ridiculously low ticket prices. But, maybe not, since residents can purchase bargain tickets for only $15.00. Sacre bleu! Add free parking, and lush forested campus, it is a miracle.
On a practical note, there is elevator access to the upper level of the theatre, and at the main level, space at the rear for easy wheelchair accommodation. Add free and plentiful parking. Most will not do as I did and travel 150 miles round trip, so what a pity to have this close by and turn your backs upon it.
One minor point. at one of the men’s comfort rooms, no paper towels, no air blowers, no soap were available. Let us work together to curb viruses and bacteria. 
Let us now consider the music and musicians. Five, yes, only five, magicians spun magic from the stage this night.
David Finckel, cello, and Wu Han, piano, are legends in long standing with the CMS. They remain as dependable as the Rocky Mountains, or Death Valley. Both performed brilliantly with their equally brilliant young colleagues, which included the astonishingly handsome Evren Ozel, whose magnificent pianism and startling, youthful freshness beguiled us all. Jose Franch-Ballester performed miracles with his clarinet. How does Nature produce a man whose musicianship is so flawless? Superb. Thrilling. Awesome. Handsome. Then, we had the austere genius of violinist Arnaud Sussmann. How is perfection humanly possible? Share your secret with us, Mr. S. Is it magic, have you entered into a Faustian bargain with handsome Lord Satan? Or, are you an angel, slumming it on Earth? In any case, his starry elan was thrilling. 
Audience acclaim was intense and well-deserved at the program’s conclusion. However, having the house lights come on during it was a tad … tacky. Do refrain from doing it again, dear Drew U.
The 2024-2025 CMS Season will include three concerts, November 2, February 22, and March 16.


  • Ludwig van Beethoven Trio in B-flat major for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano, Op. 11 (1797)
  • Max Bruch Selections from Pieces for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano, Op. 83 (1909)
  • Johannes Brahms Selections from Hungarian Dances for Piano, Four Hands (1868, 18)
  • Felix Mendelssohn Trio No. 2 in C minor for Piano, Violin, and Cello, Op. 66 (1845)

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