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Fribbins, Grieg, Ravel & Schubert

Grieg Andante con moto in C minor for piano trio
Peter Fribbins Dances & Laments for violin & cello duo (UK première)
Ravel Piano Trio (1914)
Schubert Piano Trio in E flat, D929

Philippe Graffin (violin),
Henri Demarquette (cello)
& Daniel Blumenthal (piano)

Kings Place, London, 15 January 2012

A satisfying Sunday evening at Kings Place with a nearly full house to relish a generous programme given by a fine "newly minted" piano trio*of internationally successful musicians who melded together very well, the pianist attentive to his colleagues somewhat in the way that one remembers Menahem Pressler of the Beaux Arts.

To my taste, the Grieg piece (unpublished till 1978) makes far too much of a meal of its single "grand theme".

And, although we are regularly told it was his preferred trio, I find Schubert's No 2 a shade heavy, especially in its interminably repetitive final Allegro moderato (did they spare us the first movement's repeat?). The new trio did it well, but for me ennui set in before the end; not their fault. For those who stayed on, I am told there was a frothy Italian encore.

Peter Fribbins' Dances & Laments (composed for Philippe Graffin) is a well crafted and greatly welcome addition to the somewhat slender modern repertoire for violin & cello without piano, which is still dominated by Kodaly's Duo. Dances & Laments may be a little short to carry the weight of feeling in its slower sections, before a last dance "inevitably overwhelms to finish the piece".

If the new ensemble hadn't opted for that Schubert, time might have been found for Ravel's violin/cello duo, which isnot too well known. Maurice Ravel was a perfectionist who honed his works meticulously to an ideal form; his Piano Trio, with its vivacious Pantoum (modelled on a Malay verse form) and a profound passacaglia, is one of the glories of the piano trio repertoire and took us to the interval thoroughly exhilarated.

* http://twitter.com/#!/BBCInTune/status/157888547360215040
Philippe Graffin, Henri Demarquette & Daniel Blumenthal need a name for their newly minted trio. Any suggestions?

Peter Grahame Woolf