November 13, 2012

Of drama, the night, and a fish.. – a review

Of drama, the night, and a fish.. – a review

As part of the festivities surrounding the Leeds International Piano Competition held earlier this year, the Hallé Soloists performed a small chamber concert at the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall this evening, jointly organized by the university and Friends of the Leeds International Piano Competition.

On the programme tonight was the ever-popular ‘Trout’ quintet D667 by Schubert, but not before his tender Nottorno in E-flat Op. 148, D897 and Mendelssohn’s first piano trio in D minor, Op. 49.

The mastery of Schubert is seen in how he writes the three parts to perfectly balance each other in importance; and balance was key as they took turns to shine or support. The piano part shimmered and sparkled like in most of Schubert’s writing, and pianist Sam Armstrong was always careful to keep it light yet lyrical.

As though using the Notturno as a warm-up, the trio launched into the dramatic and passionate D-minor trio. Pianist Armstrong continued to impress, making the devilishly virtuosic piano part look easy as the trio pressed onward through the powerful finale.

I have always loved the Trout quintet, having listened to it while growing up, but particularly memorable was the first time I watched it – in the 1969 Christopher Nupen film of the performance by Perlman, Zukerman, Mehta, Du Pré, and Barenboim, in a history lecture 8 years ago. With this being the first live performance of the Trout quintet I’m attending, I was excited to see what it would bring.

Although the quintet was polished to a high degree of refinement and all the musical expressions were in place, it felt almost sterile, this note-perfect playing. There was still much sensitivity and their rendition was certainly very lovely, but what came across (to me, at least) was a bunch of professionals who came together to put up a concert for work’s sake, not an intimate group of friends, like how Schubert intended his Schubertiards to be.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m expecting too much out of a £5 concert (:

Shall end with the above-mentioned 1969 video…

Or just the variations. Enjoy! 

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