THE LEONORE PIANO TRIO
BENJAMIN NABARRO: Violin
GEMMA ROSEFIELD: Cello
TIM HORTON: Piano
THE SANCTUARY, QUEEN’S CROSS CHURCH, ABERDEEN
Monday 19th October, 2018
The second performance in this season’s series of programmes promoted by Aberdeen Chamber Music Concerts was given by The Leonore Piano Trio formed in 2012 from within a larger chamber music cooperative, Ensemble 360. They both began and concluded their concert with blisteringly exciting performances of Trios by Haydn, (the conclusion of the concert being a final movement of Haydn’s Trio in C Major played as an encore).
Haydn’s Piano Trio in E flat op. 86 no. 3, Hob. XV no. 29 is a marvellously bright and sunshiny work in which the strings gave a real firecracker of a performance while pianist Tim Horton poured out his piano music with unequalled fluency. What a marvellously energising opening to their concert.
The piano played the opening melody of the second movement, soon taken up by the strings with delicious warmth. In the sizzling finale, free-flowing piano playing and bubbly, happy string playing was delivered with extravagant panache. Delight on the faces of many in the audience was obvious.
In his introductory words on the next piece, Hans Gál’s Piano Trio in E Major op. 18, Tim Horton mentioned the influences that Richard Strauss, but probably more importantly Erich Wolfgang Korngold had on Hans Gál’s music. I did not think that this referred to Korngold’s film music as much as to his Violin Concerto, his string quartets, or going back farther to his days in Vienna where Hans Gál also started his career, Korngold’s opera Die tote Stadt, in particular the aria, ‘Marietta’s Lied’ parts of which matched the gorgeous smooth high-soaring violin played by Benjamin Nabarro. This was that late blossoming of the romantic style which is the home of much of Hans Gál’s music.
The opening movement, Tranquillo ma con moto, had a particularly luscious and lustrous piano part and there were many moments of highly charged string playing.
The second movement, marked Allegro violento (I’ve never seen that instruction anywhere else) is really a Scherzo and Trio. All three players lived up to that instruction in the Scherzo section where rhythm was both challenging and exciting, while in the Trio section, the music became gently caressing with the warmth of Gemma Rosefield’s cello adding a special glow to the music.
In the Finale, at the beginning, the violin and cello as a duo were superb with the piano just gently in the background. The Allegro section was jaunty and happy slowing again to an almost pastoral mood. This music was very different to the Haydn but I have to confess that it appeals strongly to my personal tastes – a really great piece.
Different again was Beethoven’s Piano Trio in B flat op. 97, the Archduke. The first movement went through many changes in mood and texture. As Tim Horton pointed out, all three instruments get a chance to shine. One after the other, their sound bubbled to the top of the blend. There was particularly fine playing from both violin and cello. In the first performance, 11thApril 1814 Beethoven himself played the piano part which perhaps explains its importance in the Trio.
The second movement, Scherzo, is unusual in several ways. First of all, unusually for Beethoven, there is no anger or aggression, it is very happy music, and quite light in texture. Most Scherzos have just one trio section in the middle with a return at the end to the Scherzo but here Beethoven moves from one to the other several times intertwining the two musical moods. The Trio sections again unusually are not relaxed but rather dark in mood. The Leonore Trio captured both to perfection, like the sun being shadowed by cloud and then coming back again.
The third slow movement had beautiful poignant playing from Tim Horton. As the movement progressed it developed a kind of internal glow with all over gentle string playing and lovely cello melody.
The Trio segued straight into the finale, exciting with fine trenchant string playing. In this movement, Beethoven even manages to inject a feeling of playfulness. What a great performance!
Unsurprisingly, the audience was loath to let the trio go, demanding an encore. They had given such a splendid performance of the Haydn Trio at the start so they decided to play the finale of his Piano Trio in C Major Hob XV:27. Will the other two players who also played brilliantly forgive me if here I just mention Tim Horton. His piano playing in this final movement reminded me of the French word ‘pétillant’, in other words like the bubbles in a glass of champagne. Thanks for that special toast to your audience Tim.