Fine Advocacy for Beethoven from the London Piano Trio

03/12/2015

  Beethoven: London Piano Trio [Olga Dudnik (piano), Robert Atchison (violin), David Jones (cello).] St John’s, Smith Square, London. 29.11.2015 (LB)

Photo credit is Elija Paul Villanueva

Photo credit is Elija Paul Villanueva

 

Piano Trio No.5 in D Op.70 No.1 ‘Ghost’
14 Variations on an original theme in E-flat Op.44
Piano Trio No.2 in G Op.1 No.2

 

In the second of their three-concert Beethoven Cycle, the London Piano Trio had to compete with 60,000 boisterous Climate Change protesters who had gathered for a rally outside the Palace of Westminster, a matter of yards from St John’s, Smith Square.

These mid-afternoon chamber music concerts at 3pm on a Sunday are an exciting innovation, and even if the excellent programme of Beethoven piano trios didn’t muster an audience to rival the number of Climate Change protesters, the series is garnering a loyal and discerning following, including a significant number of professional musician colleagues whom I spotted in the audience.

At a time when chamber music in London’s major concert venues is increasingly being performed by celebrity ensembles, assembled for one-off events, it was gratifying to hear the London Piano Trio, who have devoted the better part of twenty years to championing this glorious repertoire, in a refreshingly sincere and principled manner.

Their concert this afternoon began with a meticulous and direct performance of Beethoven’s iconic Ghost Trio. It is a musically substantial and intellectually challenging composition, but with only three movements, relatively short. The London Piano Trio extended our joy however, by unusually and dutifully observing both first movement repeats.

Robert Atchison, previously a member of The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, revealed himself to be a refined and thoughtful artist, and was utterly in command of proceedings. Cellist David Jones provided a stylish and rich foundation throughout, but also made his instrument sing expressively whenever required to do so. Olga Dudnik is a charismatic and thoughtful pianist, who with the minimum of fuss contributes to the ensemble’s musical unity.

Variation form can sometimes be tedious to listen to, but the London Piano Trio’s stimulating and effervescent performance of Beethoven’s rarely heard 14 Variations on an original theme Op.44 successfully avoided all the traditional pitfalls. After an eloquently articulated theme, each successive variation was crafted with great imagination, and without losing sight of its relationship to the theme. This was the very first time I was privileged to hear a live performance of this outstanding set of variations, and it proved to be the highlight of the concert for me.

The jaunty Trio Op.1 No.2 that concluded the programme is, despite its early opus number, a work of astonishing ingenuity, and presents the performers with challenges aplenty. It demands an extraordinary level of nonchalant virtuosity, structural awareness, elegant and imaginative phrasing, but above all, a sense of humour, and The London Piano Trio succeeded on all fronts.

The skittish piano part was especially gracefully realised, and since there never was any danger of Olga Dudnik overwhelming her colleagues, even during her most passionate moments, I would have preferred the piano lid to be fully opened, as opposed to being on short stick.

Good music making requires not just great sense of purpose, immaculate attention to detail and impeccable execution, but also the willingness to take risks. I for one would have been willing to forgive a few blemishes in return for a more visceral level of commitment throughout the London Piano Trio’s performance, but especially in the Ghost Trio.

The London Piano trio returns to St John’s on 17th January 2016, for the final concert in their Beethoven Cycle.

 

Leon Bosch.

 

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder Announces 2019 Art-Song Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 29 April – 11 May 2019 in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall 2019-2020 Season Highlights __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera’s 2019 Performances of Stephen Storace’s Gli sposi malcontenti __________________________________
  • NEW! Nevill Holt Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR PIETARI INKINEN IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! When Music is Indistinguishable from Drama by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR MAXIM EMELYANYCHEV IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month