High Quality Playing and Perfect Rapport from Trio Martinů



Wimbledon International Music Festival 2018 – Suk, Martinů and Dvořák: Malcolm Messiter (oboe), Trio Martinů, St John’s Church, Spencer Hill, London, 20.11.2018. (AS)

SukElegy in D flat, Op.23

Martinů – Piano Trio No.3 in C, H322; Quartet for Oboe, Violin, Cello and Piano, H315

Dvořák – Piano Trio No.3 in F minor, Op.65

This recital took place as part of the Wimbledon International Music Festival, whose Director, Anthony Wilkinson, founded the event ten years ago. In 1967 Wilkinson produced a BBC film, The Music of Exile: The Life and Music of Bohuslav Martinů, and this was screened before the recital.

Here the events in the composer’s life are depicted by actors, with musical illustrations and a narration by Anthony Burgess. Most remarkably, the film unit was given access to the tower of the St Jakub Church in Polička, a town in Bohemia, close to the Moravian border, in which Martinů was born and spent his early life. Thus scenes in his childhood are enacted in the very building where they had originally taken place. The composer’s progress is then faithfully documented in appropriate locations and the whole is a most sympathetic and sensitive portrait of Martinů’s life and career.

The film formed a very suitable prelude to performances of two Martinů works that date from the early post-war years, when he was living, rather unhappily, in the USA, having been in conflict with the communist regime in his homeland. The Third Piano Trio is partly autobiographical, since after a vigorous, highly charged opening Allegro moderato movement the central Andante is a lament for Vítĕzslava Kaprálová, a talented composer who had died in 1940 when she was just 25 years old. The finale has a feeling of rather forced high spirits, is more astringent harmonically and has rapidly changing meters and rhythms.

The Martinů Trio was formed in 1990, and so it is a highly experienced group. Each player is of the highest quality technically and artistically, and the rapport between them is perfect. They are totally steeped in the music of their homeland and everything they played in this recital seemed completely authentic.

For the Oboe Quartet they were joined by the British oboist Malcolm Messiter. A fine player in his own right, he nevertheless kept a sharp musical eye on his interpretatively authoritative colleagues. Again this work has autobiographical connotations, since the first movement evokes mists swirling round the church tower, and the second recalls the tower’s bells: this leads directly into a fast, quite hectic finale.

The concert had begun with Suk’s Elegy, written in memory of the writer Julius Zeyer, with whom the composer had collaborated. Originally scored for string quartet, harp and harmonium, it was transcribed later by the composer for piano trio. Its beautiful late-romantic passion was superbly realised by the three players.

The second half of the concert comprised Dvořák’s Third Piano Trio, quite a large-scale piece, which possesses, as the programme annotator suggested, distinct echoes of Brahms, notably in the swiftly moving finale. In the slow, sombre third movement there was some particularly lovely, lyrical playing, and strong projection of rhythm and phrase in the quicker movements. Everything seemed quite natural and just as it should be.

Alan Sanders

For more about the Wimbledon International Music Festival click here.


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews



Season Previews

  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera’s 2019 Performances of Stephen Storace’s Gli sposi malcontenti __________________________________
  • NEW! Nevill Holt Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Aldeburgh Festival at the Snape Maltings in June __________________________________
  • NEW! Garsington Opera’s 2019 30th Anniversary Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Clara Schumann Festival at St John’s Smith Square – 22 to 24 February 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Venus Unwrapped: Kings Place’s Year-Long Focus on Women Composers __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Buenos Aires in 2019 – Largely Traditional __________________________________
  • NEW! Looking Ahead to the 2019 Lucerne Festivals __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 and Beyond __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! Arthur Butterworth and David Jennings Premieres in Lancaster on 1 March __________________________________
  • NEW! Ivan Putrov’s Against the Stream Ballet Gala Night on 7 April __________________________________
  • NEW! English Symphony Orchestra Bring Music from Wagner’s Epic Ring Cycle to the Swan Theatre __________________________________
  • NEW! London To Hear Long-Overdue Revival of Parry’s Oratorio Judith in April __________________________________
  • NEW! Russian Ballet Icons Gala 31 March 2019 at the London Coliseum __________________________________
  • NEW! Ik zeg: NU: I say now, now … an interview with Richard Causton __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! SOME OF SEEN AND HEARD’S REVIEWERS LOOK BACK AT 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month