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London Bridge Piano Trio

Thoughtfully programmed and superbly performed
Saturday 18th November, 2023

On a weekend of hectic music-making, it was a delight to be able to sit in an audience to enjoy a programme of three of my favourite works for piano trio.  Beethoven's opus 1 Trios were composed when he was in his mid-twenties and trying to establish himself as a virtuoso pianist/composer in the highly competitive milieu of 18th-century Vienna.  A heady combination of youthful exuberance and a compulsion to impress has given us a set of trios in which the sparkling keyboard part leads the other two instruments a merry dance.  It is lovely to hear a man, who struggled so much in later life, composing such effortlessly accomplished music, and in Daniel Tong's capable hands the full brilliance of Beethoven’s piano writing came vividly to life.

From the music of youth to the music of extreme old age, and Fauré's Trio op 120, a work in the beguiling transcendental style of the composer's final years.  Nearly deaf and an invalid, in his last years Fauré entered a trance-like state of mind, writing music of transparent and diaphanous beauty.  The London Bridge Trio made the transition from crisp classical Beethoven to visionary fin-de-siècle Fauré in the blink of an eye, and magically conjured the composer's strange otherworldly visions with skill and consummate musicality.  The elusive and fugitive mood of the finale was particularly well captured.  Here and throughout the concert, the players' delight in the music was apparent, and communicated itself directly to the audience.

The concert concluded with another masterpiece of the genre, the D minor Trio by Robert Schumann.  In a remarkable two-week frenzy, Schumann composed this remarkable work while simultaneously working on other music, and something of the stormy composition process is evident in the opening two movements.  The bleak tragedy of the slow movement is wonderfully counteracted by a finale of towering triumphant music in D major.  Never has Schumann sounded more Brahmsian, and the Trio delighted in his rich harmonies and flamboyant melodies.  As so often with Schumann, this is chamber music with orchestral pretensions, and the magnificent sonorities produced by the Trio often conjured up a much larger ensemble.  This was another thoughtfully programmed and superbly performed concert by the London Bridge Trio, an ensemble who have manifested over the years with several changes of personnel, but who have maintained a wonderful rapport and have continued to represent a pinnacle of excellence in chamber music.  A large and very appreciative Music Nairn audience underlined the demand for the very best music in the Highlands.

Reviewed by: D James Ross

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