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Ensemble

A Special Pleasure

The Greenwich Trio,
heard by MALCOLM MILLER

 

A dazzling recital of Beethoven piano trios by the Greenwich Trio highlighted the star quality of a young, dynamic ensemble at the cusp of a promising international career. It was a special pleasure to attend their concert, presented by the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe on 2 October 2008, the second in the second season of recitals on theme of 'Beethoven and youth', held in the inspiring portrait gallery of the Foundling Museum, Brunswick Square, London, UK, on the first Thursday of each month. Formed in 2006 by three Trinity College graduates, the Greenwich have since won many awards including that of the Cavatina Trust, first prize in an international chamber music prize in Italy and the Solti Award, which this year has enabled them to pursue a range of concerts across the world.

Their BPSE Foundling Museum programme followed the series theme of 'Beethoven and youth', with a sparkling and excitingly propulsive account of Beethoven's first published trio, Op 1 No 1 in E flat, and, to begin, the seldom played Allegretto in B flat WoO 38, a work dating from 1812, which was dedicated to Beethoven's friend and supporter, Maximilian Brentano. It radiates the special romanticist 'innigkeit', lyricism and inward sensibility that infused other works of the period such as the song cycle An die ferne Geliebte, captured with enthralling fluidity by the Greenwich.

The Greenwich Trio at London's Foundling Museum - from left to right: Lana Trotovsek, violin, Yoko Misumi, piano and Stjepan Hauser, cello
The Greenwich Trio at London's Foundling Museum - from left to right: Lana Trotovsek, violin, Yoko Misumi, piano and Stjepan Hauser, cello

Here Lana Trotovsec's silvery melodies were evocatively echoed and riposted by Stepjan Hauser's mellow cello resonances, within the broadly flowing support of Yoko Misumi's pastel shaded piano textures. As an ensemble they caught just the right warmth of the hall's acoustic, whilst their subtle nuances of emphasis and ebbing dynamics kept the dialogues ever buoyant, while some carefully controlled rubato enhanced the phrasing of the Schubertian melody in a ravishing performance.

Op 1 No 1 is well known, yet the ensemble gave it fresh life having recently performed it as part of a reconstruction of an 1830s concert programme, given at the Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich. The first movement conveyed just the right burst of youthful energy to the rising arpeggio motif which is propelled around the texture with a myriad of guises. Aside from their punchy articulation, both the strings' rich sonority was especially focused and dominant against the piano's passagework and accompaniment patterns, particularly strident in the chordal second subject. This was true chamber music full of dialogue and interaction, and a thrilling sense of common purpose, right up to the concerto-like cadenza which concludes the first movement.

It was in the slow movement that the Greenwich displayed both emotional depth and a ravishing tonal palette, here the cello's warmth and impassioned eloquence came to the fore, in duet with the sweet-edged violin and delicate tracery of the piano, in the operatic ornamentation of the main theme.

The spiky scherzo highlighted their impressive unanimity of attack, and vitality, well contrasting the relaxed central interlude with subdued shading.

The climax was the finale, whose predominant playfulness was powerfully disturbed by the darker turbulence of its dramatic minor episode, while enjoying the ingenious delights of its Neapolitan modulation so near the end. The rapturous applause was well deserved, and rewarded by no less than a beguiling account of the slow movement of the Trio Op 11, where one had a renewed opportunity to enjoy the soloistic qualities of each of the players.

The Greenwich Trio at London's Foundling Museum - from left to right: Lana Trotovsek, violin, Stjepan Hauser, cello, and Yoko Misumi, piano
The Greenwich Trio at London's Foundling Museum - from left to right: Lana Trotovsek, violin, Stjepan Hauser, cello, and Yoko Misumi, piano

Together as the Greenwich Trio, their zestful interpretations, beautiful tonal blending and wide range of colour and expression made a memorable impression. Hopefully the trio will return to the BPSE platform again soon, and meanwhile audiences will have a chance to enjoy their music making across European stages.

Copyright © 3 October 2008 Malcolm Miller, London UK

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Future UK performances by the Greenwich Trio include a concert in the opening festival of London's new hall, King's Place (Sunday 5 October 2008), Cheltenham Town Hall Lunchtime Series, Cheltenham (Tuesday 18 November 2008, 1.05pm), Blüthner Piano Centre Ltd, 1 Davis Street, Berkeley Square, London W1K 3DB (Thursday 8 January 2009, 7pm), Old Royal Naval College Chapel, 2 Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich, London SE10 9LW (Monday 13 January 2009 and Tuesday 28 April 2009, both at 1.05pm), Blenheim Music Circle, Chiswick Catholic Centre, 2 Duke's Avenue, Chiswick, London W4 (Sunday 18 January 2009, 3pm) and Hertford Music Club, Friends Meeting House, 50 Railway Street, Hertford SG14 1BA (Sunday 18 October 2009).

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