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Opus 3 concluded the evening with a brighter, caressing contrast, Schubert's glorious E flat Trio. Here there was real communication in the ensemble and momentum maintained throughout, with a well blended sonority throughout and some eloquent solos. There was bold assertive playing in the dramatic flowing first movement. Here Schubert's musical approach, discussed by Christopher White in his charming introduction, was well illustrated in the trio's expansive and clear rendition, highlighting motivic development and colour contrasts such as the atmospheric second subject with its Trout-like piano octave textures high above. The tripping textures are uniquely Schubertian and here the members of the ensemble were fully alert to its lightness and measured pacing especially in the imitative dialogues of piano and strings. Despite some occasional over-restraint in the piano part, the balance was in general forthright, especially magical in the development section, with its limpid arpeggios in piano against sustained lines in the strings leading to the powerful reprise. The beautiful slow movement had a delicacy and airy texture that created an aura of stillness, through which Jane Odriozola's expressive cello theme attained eloquent intensity. The charming canon of the third movement flowed with ease and charm while the finale bubbled, with its frothy rondo theme and virtuoso challenges for each instrument as well as the ensemble as a whole. Opus 3's satisfying account of a masterwork affirmed the ensemble's appealing qualities of sonority and communication so essential for the felicities of chamber music.

Leaving the ornate seventeenth century room, with the sounds of Tartini, Shostakovich and Schubert still ringing in the memory, one had an intriguing impression of historical flux and continuity, of the clash and connection amongst disparate periods, styles and values: Elizabethan politics and the remarkably enduring power of individual philanthropy, the Biedermeyer bonhomie of Schubert's 'music of friends', of the struggle for equality and social freedom symbolised by both the Russian Revolution, and the subsequent resistance to Soviet oppression, above all the potency of music to create a social symbol that addresses and questions issues beyond the sheer immediacy and appeal of its sensuous vibration.

Copyright © 16 October 2007 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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