MALCOLM MILLER listens to Trio Lignum
The evocative lyricism of a Machaut plainchant played by a vibrato-free solo clarinettist, walking slowly to the centre-stage of the Long Gallery at the Wallace Collection, formed an eloquent overture to the climactic concert of the ninth series of Music at the Wallace Collection concerts on Sunday 7 December 2003, given as part of the Magyar Magic celebration of Hungarian culture. It was the first of three short Medieval and Renaissance pieces played by the woodwind ensemble, aptly named 'Trio Lignum', whom the Artistic Director Hannah Horovitz had warmly welcomed, alongside Katalin Bogyay, Director of the Hungarian Cultural Centre and prime mover behind Magyar Magic. The series, presented by Springboard Concerts Trust, had highlighted a wealth of talent amongst the new generation of Hungarian musicians, and this final concert was a memorable climax. The three imaginative Hungarian musicians of Trio Lignum, Csabá Klenyán and Lajos Rozmán clarinets, and György Lakatos bassoon, performed a fully involving programme of unfamiliar works for the unfamiliar combination, ranging through their specialisms, from Medieval and Renaissance polyphony, to Baroque and classical repertoire and the fresh side of new music.
After the solo clarinet chant completed, the second clarinet began its imitative counterpoint, followed eventually by the mellow intertwining of the bassoon to complete the three-part polyphony of Machaut's Rondeau in Retrograde, 'My end is the beginning; my beginning is my end'. As the supple lines swelled and resonated, the aura of a medieval cathedral spun its spell in curious lucidity of texture, illuminating the music's playful intricacy. Despite the modern instruments, the Trio Lignum's stylistically convincing sonorities brought magnetic appeal to the abstract linear interweaving in pieces by Byrd and Bull that followed, the warm blends in the 'Alleluia quae luscecit' from Byrd's Gradualia and the delicate ornamentations and energetic imitations of John Bull's 'In Nomine IV' from the Fitzwilliam Virginals Book, conveyed with magnetic aplomb.
Copyright © 11 December 2003
Malcolm Miller, London UK