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Sundays at Blackheath Halls and Kings Place

Haydn, Beethoven & Arensky Piano Trios

Haydn - Piano Trio No.25 in E minor, Hob.XV:12
Beethoven - Piano Trio in C minor, Op.1, No.3
Arensky - Piano Trio No.1 in D minor, Op.32

The Arman Trio
Deniz Arman Gelenbe - piano, Constantin Bogdanas - violin and Dorel Fodoreanu - cello

Blackheath Halls - Sunday 11.00,piano. 26 October 2008

This was a perfectly conceived and presented recital programme. The later Haydn piano trios are so inventive and original in their musical content that string players should not avoid them, even though they have few opportunites to shine and have to play "second fiddle" (and cello) to the piano. Turkish pianist Deniz Arman Gelenbe, who is Head of Piano at Trinity School of Music nearby, has the exact measure of the Blackheath Bösendorfer (which some pianists find difficult to manage) and she played her leading part with clarity and aplomb, crisp articulation and minimal pedal.

The third of the 22-year-old Beethoven's early trios, his Op 1, is the strongest and most original, so much so that it attracted criticism from his then teacher, Haydn, which the fiery young man did not accept with good grace. Here the strings are allowed some independence and the two Romanian string players (now French citizens) made good of their opportunities, the ensemble as a whole nicely judged.

After the interval, into high Russian romanticism, for a rare hearing of Arensky's once better known trio of 1894. This was from a different world, rich colouring and unrestrained virtuosity from all three players, perfectly balanced here. The scherzo is a particularly winning piece, intricate and at risk of tripping up incautious players rhythmically, negotiated expertly by these experienced musicians and friends, who have been playing and touring together for some twenty years.

The Arman Trio has been enjoyed previously at Blackheath (http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/liveevents/YsayeArman.htm) where we have reviewed too some recordings on various labels (e.g. Deniz Arman Gelenbe in Erkin & Kodalli Piano Quintets).

Peter Grahame Woolf

At Blackheath Halls there is currently a photo exhibition of China Today by Colin Still, and the future programme of events includes news of the improvements in hand and future art exhibitions on the walls of the foyer/bar . It is to be hoped that they will include better lighting for the pictures to be exhibited? PGW


Brahms, Elgar, Mendelssohn & Ravel

Mendelssohn - Piano Trio in D minor Op.49
Ravel - Sonata for Violin and Piano
Elgar - Piano Trio (1886)
Brahms - Piano Trio in C minor Op.101 (comp. 1886)

John York, Philippe Graffin & Raphael Wallfisch Piano Trio

Kings Place, London - 6.30 Sunday 26 October

The South Place Sunday Concerts (managed by the London Chamber Music Society - Artistic Director Peter Fribbins) have transferred to Kings Place from Conway Hall, Holborn, with gratifying sell-outs, despite the vagaries of London's transport these days and the venue being far off the regular tourist track (it took us more than two hours from Greenwich to reach Kings Cross only just in time, because of congestion and weekend engineering work).

The concert was on the short side. The novelty, billed rather grandly as a Piano Trio, proving to be but a short "pre-encore" by the young Elgar,, a possible premiere of an unpublished sketch from the mid-1880s, a very early salon piece in waltz time, still in manuscript.

The presently constituted York/Graffin/Wallfisch trio finished with a well prepared account of Brahms' compact last piano trio of the same year, but the first half had been disconcerting. Mendelssohn's trio has far too many notes for the piano, and they passed in a wash of undifferentiated sound, rather over-pedalled, against which the string duo were perfectly attuned to each other, as noted previously in another combination (Graffin-Wallfisch-Menuhin Trio) at Conway Hall a couple of years back.

Far more engaging had been a well prepared and super-sensitive account of the far too-rarely heard Ravel violin sonata, which flirts with '20s blues and jazz; I remember being quite shocked by this piece fifty years ago.

Peter Grahame Woolf


P.S. I learned afterwards that at Conway Hall continuity has been maintained seamlessly with another series of early evening Sunday Concerts, instituted under the artistic direction of Simon Callaghan [http://www.conwayhallsundayconcerts.org.uk/index.php?page=about-concerts].