A stab of a chord, then a dark, slowly spreading pool of dissonance: the opening motive of Gunther Schuller's new Piano Trio No. 3, premiered on Monday in Jordan Hall by the Gramercy Trio (violinist Sharan Leventhal, cellist Jonathan Miller, and pianist Randall Hodgkinson). At the age of 87, Schuller has written a piece that feels retro and youthful at the same time, working venerable veins of modernism with often bristling energy.
That opening idea, for instance: It was repeated a couple of times more, then stretched out into a rapid-fire telex of notes answered by a collage of expressionist tangles, ranging from emphatic to eerily distant — tropes familiar but still remarkably insistent. Even when the Trio seems to be turning toward the elegiac, a new surfeit of ideas burns through. The middle Largo movement starts off with a long, lean, keening violin solo, but as the other instruments enter, the discourse quickly builds to a dense, dramatic delirium — only to dissolve into a contemplative stretch of piano that starts the cycle over again.