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Seen and Heard Recital Review

Schubert & Mozart Zehetmair Trio (Thomas Zehetmair, violin; Ruth Killius, viola; Rosie Bliss, cello), Wigmore Hall, 1pm, Monday, March 7th, 2005 (CC)

Necessity is the mother of invention, so they say. When the Zehetmair Quartet’s second violinist withdrew from this concert for health reasons, it brought about the foundation of a new ensemble, the Zehetmair Trio, here making its first-ever appearance.

The progamme was perhaps more daring than the two names in the review-title imply. The Schubert was the Trio in B flat, D471, one of those torsos, a work abandoned with only one movement available to us. The Mozart, cunningly entitled ‘Divertimento’ (in E flat, K563) is in fact this composer’s longest chamber work, lasting some 45 minutes.

The Schubert is an interesting work, not least for its somewhat disembodied opening. The Zehetmair Trio impressed with its amazingly quiet pianissimi, tensile and pregnant. Schubert’s harmonic language is adventurous, lending the brief movement (11 minutes) something of the air of a musical question mark.

The six-movement Mozart was played with a true sense of chamber music, motifs tossed between the instruments with abandon. Yet the development was darkly shaded – straining at the edges of the definition of the term ‘Divertimento’. Zehetmair can be remarkably sweet-toned, and such was the case in the Adagio, where Mozart’s harmonic adventures were rendered with real sensitivity. This was the true heart of the work – the other ‘slow’ movement (an Andante) is in fact a set of variations on a folkish theme (an unutterably sweet one too, if you ask me). One was struck here by the sheer fertility of Mozart’s imagination (in fact it was only in the final movement that it struck me there is some compositional padding).

It was a daring idea to form the Zehetmair Trio for this concert. I for one hope we hear more of them.



Colin Clarke

Further Listening:

Mozart: Grumiaux Trio (1967) Philips Duo 454 023-2

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