A return visit to London by the Verdehr Trio,
reviewed by PETER DICKINSON
The Verdehr Trio is simply the most influential violin-clarinet-piano group in the world. It was greatly to the credit of the invariably enterprising Park Lane Group that this programme opened their fiftieth season. The pervasive influence of the Verdehr can be gauged by the fact that they have commissioned almost 200 works for their medium over the past thirty years -- a remarkable record of commitment to the living composer. Verdehr and his wife Elsa started the Trio in 1972 and since then they have been on the faculty at Michigan State University in East Lansing. They both value their teaching but are able to operate with the University as a base from which to travel round the world playing the repertoire they have created. Fortunately they are not content with live performances and regularly make CDs, which carry the work of their composers even further afield. At first they commissioned colleagues in American universities but soon branched out internationally, as their programmes reveal. In a matter of seconds at the start of any of their concerts, it becomes apparent that these are three virtuosi as well as superlative chamber musicians. They need to be with this amazingly demanding repertoire!
The recital at the Purcell Room consisted exclusively of UK premières by American and British composers and Wolfgang Rihm from Germany. It started with Dash (2002) by Jennifer Higdon, an American in her forties who already has a major career with awards and orchestral commissions throughout the US. Her Blue Cathedral was the most frequently performed orchestral work by a living American composer in the 2004/05 season. Dash -- a kind of super-charged, hyperactive Bartók -- was a non-stop, breath-taking tour de force which kept listeners and performers on the edge of their seats.
Copyright © 8 November 2005
Peter Dickinson, Suffolk UK