Can’t Get Ahnough

Three sisters from Korea, Lucia Ahn, piano; Angella Ahn, violin; Maria Ahn, cello, form the fashionable Ahn Trio. In the vein of other contemporary groups, these young women take the discipline of classical training and virtuosity, add in playfulness and popular sensibilities, toss them into a particle accelerator, and smash ’em all up. Their music is a spray of youthful, blooming à la mode. Of all the classical crossover artists, the Ahn Trio is likely the most waggish and with it. If you can’t find several cuts to like on this CD, you don’t like music.

The album under scrutiny is their 2000 release, Ahn-Plugged. Ten cuts, seven composers, and two guest artists, Matthew Gold, percussion, and Brian Resnich, trap set and percussion, fill up the CD with lively, rockin’ sounds. Sometimes it’s a bit Looney Tunes, sometimes lyrical, always something energetic. The oldest piece in the set, from 1937, is Leonard Bernstein’s “Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano,” written quite appropriately when he was a cheeky 19 years old. Could be just a coincidence, but I find the blend of naivety and precocity shown by Bernstein a surprising match for the rest of the more recent compositions. Was it by fluke or plan? Either way, it works. And so works the remainder of this curious mix of composers, Henji Bunch, Astor Piazzolla, Eric Ewazen, Michael Nyman, and a co-authored piece by David Bowie and Pat Metheny. The sisters are the ligature that holds the disparate selections together. You feel their presence coming through every note, the miles of circuits, the decade plus of time, and the varying styles the music transverses.

This CD may not be representative of all six of their recordings, but it does embody a distinct philosophy on music and life that I’ll bet runs through everything they do. Take a look at their website to get a good feel for the [Ahn Trio].

(||) Rating — Music : A ║ Performance : A ║ Recording : A- ║
 Ahn Trio, Ahn-Plugged, EMI Classics, 2000

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