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SEEN AND HEARD
The repertoire for piano trio constitutes one of
my favourite areas of the chamber music canon, so I arrived well-disposed to
enjoy this Sunday afternoon concert - in Radio 3's 'Performer +' series (organised
in conjunction with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales). But you didn't have to
share that particular predisposition, to enjoy this recital by the Atos Trio, no
special pleading being needed. Formed in 2003, the Atos Trio (the personnel of
which has remained unchanged) won the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson International
Trio Award in 2007. At present the Trio is a participant in BBC Radio 3's New
Generation Artists Scheme.
The highlight of their concert came after the interval with a very fine reading of Mendelssohn's Second Piano Trio in C minor. What a superb - and still underrated - work this is! And what tremendous advocates for it the Atos Trio proved to be. Their playing of the opening movement fully lived up to Mendelssohn's marking: 'Allegro energico e con fuoco'. There was real bite in the introduction and there were some powerful 'storms' in what followed. (Contrary to popular images of him, Mendelssohn could rage with the best of them, as in the incident when he tore his score ofperformance never quite took off. The conflicting patterns of the first movement didn't carry their full weight of antithesis and argument; the famous tremolos of the slow movement made their effect, but the movement as a whole was, for so obviously accomplished an ensemble, slightly pedestrian. There was more to admire in the reading of the final movement, in a performance full of rhythmic dynamism and played with an appropriate humour (without entirely foregoing the music's hints of the heroically affirmative).
Above all, however,
it was the ensuing Mendelssohn that stood out. The performance was rightly very
warmly received by a relatively small audience - and the deserved warmth of
reception prompted an unexpected bonus; a charming performance of the scherzo
from Schubert's Trio in E flat (D.929).
Already very accomplished, it is to be hoped that
the Atos Trio work together long enough to fulfil the tremendous potential
evidenced in this very enjoyable concert.