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Haydn: Quartet in C major Op. 76 No. 3 'Emperor' Shostakovich: Quartet No.8 in C minor Op.110 Beethoven: Quartet in F Op.135

Tristan Gurney | Philip Burrin | Jessica Beeston | Mark Bailey

Sunday 4 March 2012

The Conway Hall brochure [L] is a salutary reminder that it is worth checking events on the internet !

The two March events listed had been reversed, to the disappointment of several who came for the more interesting looking Lakeside Trio programme; we'll all have to come back in a fortnight for that.

On arrival, instead of the usual programme, we were supplied with a sheet of notes on these three quartets to be given, but no indication who would be playing them!

The Edinburgh Quartet in its latest format gave sound accounts of their programme of standards. After a shaky start by their current leader they settled into an engrossing account of the Haydn, one of his best and most famous quartets, which I had not encountered live for many years. The Shostakovich 8 was given a reliable performance really is played too often, with some of his 14 others rarely aired except in complete cycles; it is a glum, heavy piece. Beethoven's compact last quartet (chosen as a smapler of the quartet's complete cycle in Scotland) cannot fail to delight, though again there was some fallability in high lying passages.

By chance in the bar I met and talked with composer Howard Blake, who introduced himself, having spotted that I was holding a copy of the Edinburgh Quartet's most recent CD of his chamber music [Naxos 8572688].

A prolific composer for film and concert, Blake told me that he has been dogged by the success of his Christmas staple "The Snowman", some people thinking he'd composed nothing else... We reviewed his 2009 70th birthday concert, which included Easy Pieces Op. 608.

In fact he is one of the most prolific composers in the world, in all genres. Unapologetically staying with tonal styles, and thereby engaging with audiences everywhere, these range from small pieces to large scale choral works such as his oratorio The Passion of Mary, which was reviewed in depth by our contributor Bob Briggs, who sadly died recently...

An evening which turned out well !

Peter Grahame Woolf

Dvorak & Panufnik

, Antonín: Piano Trio No.3 in F minor, Op.65.
Panufnik, Andrzej: Piano Trio, Op.1.

Lakeside Trio Prach Boondiskulchok, piano Chihiro Ono, violin Vladimir Waltham, cello

Conway Hall 18 March 2012

Commuting from Kings Place (a Chamber Studio coaching session) to catch up with Lakeside Trio, this group pleased in Dvorak's large scale lesser known trio and a Panufnik rarity, his youthful trio stemming from from wartime in Poland, when he played piano duets with Lutaslowski.

The score, with many others, was lost in a fire and reconstructed from memory after Panufnik had emigrated, settling in UK. It was again revised and published as his Op 1. Not hugely original, its last movement would make for a good encore in any piano trio concert.

The Dvorak trio, possibly better than his popular Dumka Trio, so thinks these players, was given an appropriately expansive treatment, with a fine confident sweep, marred only minimally by occasional lapses of intonation from the violin. The music was introduced by two of the players, and this was a worthy appearance by a distinguished trio, formed at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in October 2007. (After a very full afternoon of chamber music at Chamber Studio - of which the Lakeside Trio had availed themselves preparing for this concert - I didn't stay for the Ravel trio, which they had given in Aldeburgh & at Wigmore Hall.)


Brahms, Bartok, Dohnanyi

Brahms 'Cello Sonata No. 2 in F Op. 99: Trio in E flat Op. 40
: Contrasts -
Dohnanyi: Sextet in C Op. 37 [PictL]

Conway Hall Ensemble
Brahms: Dunja Lavrova (violin), Horn Emma Whitney, Piano Hiro Takenouchi Bartok: Tianyun Jia (violin), Clarinet William Staffords, Piano Hiro Takenouchi

Dohnanyi: Tianyun Jia violin - Eniko Magyar viola - James Barralet 'cello - William Stafford clarinet - Emma Whitney horn - Simon Callaghan piano

Conway Hall, London 27 May 2012

A festive end-of-season concert.

It was good to see Conway Hall Sunday's two stalwart regular pianists taking turns at the keyboard and page-turning for each other too. They were in great form and this was a splendidly programmed sequence which was received with enthusiasm (Barralet & Callaghan are soon to record their matured interpretation of the Brahms sonatas for somm-recordings and will be giving a fund raising recital at Queen’s Gate Terrace, London SW7 in June).

The horn trio was strongly characterised by Dunja Lavrova (violin) but it was noticeable that with a French horn there is nothing to "see" - perhaps that is one piece of chamber music that is better on CD than DVD?

The Bartok was less inhibited than at Wigmore Hall with the same clarinettist who had seemed intimidated there and had been "too polite to indulge in the jazzy screech that a Benny Goodman (its commissioner) would have brought to it !"

The Dohnanyi sextet was a great romp, but a piece to hear not too often...

Best wishes to Conway Hall and their flexible Ensemble for the 2012-2013 Season

Peter Grahame Woolf