Monday 19th February, 2018


The Piano Trio Isimsiz formed in 2009 at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama is a marvellous example of how music can bring together a wide range of international talent. It is to be hoped that Brexit does not bring an end to such examples of international artistic co-operation in Britain.

Actually, despite his Turkish name which matches the name of the ensemble itself, (Isimsiz means “without a name” in Turkish) pianist Erdem Misirlioglu was born in Suffolk. Violinist Pablo Hernán Benedí comes from Madrid and Michael Petrov was born in Bulgaria. They last played for Aberdeen Chamber Music Concerts in January 2016 when they positively bowled over the audience with the brilliance of their performance, so of course they were welcomed back to Queen’s Cross Church by a capacity audience on Monday evening.

Their programme too was a hugely attractive one with Trios by Schubert, Beethoven and Brahms. In each case the Trios were composed in the early years of the composers’ careers. Schubert was only 15 going on 16 when he wrote his Piano Trio in Bb D28, Beethoven composed his Piano Trio Op. 1 No. 3 between 1793-95 when he would have been twenty-three to twenty-five years old and Brahms published his Piano Trio No. 1 in B Op. 8 when he was just 21 years old.

The Schubert and the Beethoven Trios sat together particularly well in the first half of the concert. The Brahms in the second half was best on its own because it was very different in so many ways.

The ensemble playing of the Isimsiz Trio was exemplary. The quality of each instrumentalist was peerless and they achieved a musical blend, especially in the Schubert and Beethoven Trios that was absolutely delicious. Dare I say however, (and this was very much the result of how the pieces were composed) that Erdem Misirlioglu’s piano playing was particularly stunning in its impact. Both in the Schubert and Beethoven Trios the fluency and lightness of his touch were totally seductive.

The single movement Allegro of the Schubert Trio opened with three descending chords stabbed out by the full Trio. Our attention was instantly captured, then the movement unfolded with the lightness and delicacy of the piano and a sweet blend of strings. Overall lightness and transparency of texture were contrasted with passages of splendid vehemence – a thoroughly entrancing musical experience.

The opening movement of Beethoven’s Trio is marked Allegro con brio and con brio, (with liveliness of spirit, vigour and energy) is exactly what we got from the Trio Isimsiz although there were passages of soft delicacy and thoughtfulness with once again a sparkling performance from the pianist.

The second movement, cantabile with Variations, was fascinating. One of the variations had a delightful blending of pizzicato strings and staccato piano. This was followed by an almost melancholy passage and then especially on the piano, sunshine broke through splendidly.

The Menuetto was in the minor mode but still quite jolly and then the trio section which towards the end suggested birdsong. Was the young Beethoven already enjoying his long country walks?

The finale, Prestissimo, was fiery and emphatic but there were sparkling gentle moments too.

Dare I suggest that the Piano Trio no. 1 in B Op. 8 by Brahms is not really Chamber Music in the same way that the Schubert and Beethoven are. The instrumental blend is richer, fuller and less transparent – much more orchestral in fact. Brahms had not yet composed a symphony but there was something decidedly symphonic about this piece. It was interesting to be able to see Erdem’s hands on the piano especially in the outer movements of the work. They were often wide apart suggesting the breadth of the Brahmsian chording and then they would move close together sounding out a different sort of richness.

The blossoming of Brahmsian melody was right to the fore at the opening of the work and the three instruments although they blended beautifully together kept their own special identities going throughout the work. There were passages where the delicacy of the piano playing was revisited but on the whole it was strength and power that came through in Erdem’s quite magnificent playing in the Brahms.

There was something edgy, almost macabre about the opening of the Scherzo with wonderfully intense playing by the Isimsiz Trio. In the contrasting trio section of the Scherzo movement it was melody again that shone through. It was in the almost bare sounding Adagio that the different instruments stood out in high relief and at one point it became like a cello and piano sonata although elsewhere the violin and cello achieved a specially delicious blend.

The waltz at the opening of the Finale was, just as the excellent programme note by Lydia Thomson suggested, decidedly sinister. There were actually more changes of colour and emotional expression in the Brahms Trio. It was the sort of piece you would want to hear again and again and every time you would find something new in it.

Thank-you so much Trio Isimsiz and as the old Aberdonian saying goes, “Haste Ye Back!”


Piano Trio Isimsiz – 19 February 2018: Review