Vienna Piano Trio review

Andrew Buchanan-Smart says their aural palette was extensive as they captured the balance of youth exuberance and wisdom ...
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Andrew Buchanan-Smart says their aural palette was extensive as they captured the balance of youth exuberance and wisdom of age.

The Vienna Piano Trio certainly brought an exceptional sample of one of the many musical heartbeats of Vienna. The entire programme had links to Vienna; from the First Viennese School (classical period) featuring a work by Haydn, to Brahms from the romantic period to the Second Viennese School (early 20th century Vienna) with Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), transcribed by Eduard Steuermann.

Haydn's Piano Trio No. 42 opened the concert and being a late work of Haydn it showed outstanding development of the genre compared to his earlier trios. It was immediately noticeable that the dynamic range displayed by the ensemble ensured that the blend and balance between the parts was a significant feature of their playing. Essentially the pianist Stefan Mendl never overpowered the string parts and the fortes were strong and full without being too loud. This meant the colours and tonal palette of the ensemble were subtle, very expressive and never forced.

Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht is a musical setting of a poem by Richard Dehmel. The music is stunningly beautiful and descriptive as it reflected the journey of the poem, from darkness to sadness and confession and acceptance and forgiveness to, finally, radiance. The lush and highly chromatic sounds and exquisite sensitivity of playing created a tonal palette that magically echoed the text as it journeyed through the night. Schoenberg's realisation of the poem was achieved through themes identified as the woman, man, and narration with the Brahmsian technique of thematic variation and development. This led the audience nicely to the Brahms Piano Trio No. 1 in B Op. 8 which fitted perfectly into this Viennese programme. With focused and homogenous playing the trio captured the character and essence of each movement. Their virtuosity had no limits and their aural palette was extensive as they captured the balance of youth exuberance and wisdom of age; this was piano trio playing that would be difficult to surpass.

Who: CMNZ: Vienna Piano Trio

When: Thursday 22 October 

Where: Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts

Stefan Mendl – piano, David McCarroll – violin, Matthias Gredler - cello

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