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Perhaps because it is difficult to find musicians of congenial character living close together, the Trio Albonata is utterly modern in requiring cross continental travel for rehearsals. (I shudder to consider the carbon tax this would imply.) This can be a danger because the resulting sound can be evidently slapped together, drawing on the musicians' professionalism and achieving merely professional and not artistic results.

All such dangers were transcended in this performance [Saturday 15 February 2008, Leacock Theatre, Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta, Canada]. The music was presented with seriousness, good humour where required, and intensity. If anything, I sensed a tendency to overplay in terms of volume and speed in some places, but this is so frequent an occurrence in modern performance practice that one might almost consider it an element of style.

At first sight the choice of repertoire might have seemed 19th century heavy, but in reality the classicist element of that era was emphasised. The Beethoven is such a wonderful piece, with a jolly good tune in the last movement subjected to intricate and hilarious variations, while the Brahms is serious and important.

Which leaves the Trio, Op 17 by Clara Schumann. If this work had been signed by Robert Schumann or Brahms it would be a staple of the repertoire, played frequently and studied deeply. Clara Schumann was one of the giants of the 19th century and we have still not caught up.

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Copyright © 11 March 2008 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Canada


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