Chamber music ensemble Intersection Trio dazzles crowds in Colorado Springs | Music

How tired are female classical musicians of comments about their appearance? I won’t mention the costumes of violinist Laura Frautschi or cellist Kristina Cooper. Instead, I’m focusing on pianist John Novacek’s beer-patterned socks. But more on that later.

Musician in question? Crossroads Trio. This talented chamber music ensemble performed at Packard Hall last week as a preview of the Colorado College Summer Music Festival (June 5-21). The festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Chamber music may seem inaccessible to many, but Intersection is doing its best to break down these barriers. The trio is engaging, light-hearted and liberated from the score. It’s unusual to hear such chamber music performed from memory, but with the exception of one piece (a heartbreakingly beautiful Ravel Piano Trio), that’s exactly what they did.


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The program opened with Edward Elgar’s beautiful “Salut d’Amour”, arranged by renowned composer and violist Kenji Bunch. Bunch is a former student of violist Toby Appel, who has taught at CCSMF for many years. This year, CCSMF commissioned a piece from Bunch, which the two musicians will perform in the ensemble.

The musicians then immediately began to arrange a Spanish dance by Manuel de Falla. Both opening songs showcase the trio’s cohesiveness and sophisticated communication skills. They are very fluent when it comes to musical conversation.

The first half ends with the aforementioned Maurice Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor, and what a wonderful piece it is. The first movement begins with an ethereal melody deftly shaped by Fraudsky, Novacek’s signature stomping rhythm, and Cooper’s chilling harmonies at the end. Jumping to the third movement, “Pasakaye” opens in an ostinato with rumbling, calm notes played by Novacek on the piano. Cooper delivers a heartbreakingly beautiful melody, then switches to Frautsky, playing first for a moment in the lovely low end of the violin’s range. The three eventually come together, and the piano still provides a soft landscape, like looking out of a train window into the misty countryside.


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I love creative programming, and Novacek’s choice to open the second half was no exception. The trio performed three polonaises, a traditional Polish dance that almost always consists of three people, but more specifically has a very unique rhythm. The best way to describe this is “blackberries are delicious.” You have to say it out loud to understand what I mean. Maybe just tuck it away as a conversation prompt at the next musical cocktail party you attend.

Three polonaises were choreographed, each distinctly different from the last. It’s a versatile genre. The show opened with Chopin’s Polanz Fantasia, which Novacek rightly described as more fantasy than a Polanz, with many departures from traditional rhythms and structures. However, this piece, more than any other in the program, illustrates my love for Novacek’s playing – there’s so much awkwardness in his dynamics. When you play very quietly, it’s called “pianissimo”. I know it sounds like I’m making this up, but I mean it, and so does Novacek.

Next came Henryk Wieniawski’s Polonaise, performed by Frautschi, who did the piece with joy, playfulness and masterful justice. Cooper then took the stage again to perform a popper polazz with a level of sensuality that would be hard to describe in polite company. I in no way wish to belittle her impeccable technique, but I did want to have a cigarette afterwards.


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The program concluded with two contemporary compositions. A medley from the 1988 film “Cinema Paradiso”, the trio effortlessly performed, conveying a rich and tender melody. Then comes a wonderful arrangement of several tunes from West Side Story (also by Bunch), with Frautschi charmingly introducing her personal narrative to the piece. “Maria” begins with some simple notes from piano and violin. “Tonight” is an example of their perfect balance in exchanging melodic lines. Ultimately, at “The Rumble,” it became clear that neither the Sharks nor the Jets won, only the crowd did.

Now it’s time to get back into pianist Novacek’s socks. As a well-deserved encore, the trio launched into a rag called “Drunk” by the talented composer and pianist. It showcased everything this trio does – their communication with each other was brilliant, their interaction with the audience was unparalleled, and the dizzying pace of the final quick encore was intoxicating.

Wrawsky and Novacek will return to this summer’s festival as faculty members. For tickets and information, visit

Contact the author: 636-0270

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