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An outstanding recital

The Denali Piano Trio,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


At a time when Derby Chamber Music is considering the next stage in its development, there could scarcely have been a more ringing endorsement of its place in Derby's musical life than this outstanding recital by the Denali Trio (20 January 2006 at Murray Park School). The group's blend of eloquent ensemble and telling individual contributions is what chamber music is all about.

Brahms's C minor Trio, Op 101, got off to a bold start -- clearly a performance which was going to have plenty of fire in its belly. The strong bass octaves of the Cedar Park Centre piano have caught a number of pianists off-guard in the past, but Ashley Wass had the measure of its individual character. Balance with his colleagues -- violinist Laurence Jackson and cellist Alexander Caushian (deputising at short notice for the indisposed Sarah Carter) -- was never an issue. Together they dug deep into the music's expressive core, with a splendidly shadowy second movement and gracefully melancholy third.

Ashley Wass
Ashley Wass

Schnittke's Piano Trio is typical of his wildly eclectic manner, with echoes of Berg, Schubert, Shostakovich, even Philip Glass. Who else could forge such a disparate mix into so compelling an experience? Completely unfazed by the challenge of holding it all together, the Denali Trio projected the work with such conviction that the audience was clearly riveted.

Completing the evening with Beethoven's weighty but relaxed Archduke Trio was a cunning piece of programming. The first movement was both alert and easy-going, and its cumulative power was beautifully judged. In the second movement the players found the right mixture of airy humour and, in the trio section, mystery, warmth and serenity with some very effective passages of dialogue in the third, and the finale was full of playful vigour.

Copyright © 28 January 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK




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