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Wise and generous interpreters

MusicWeb International, Jonathan Woolf

Though the way they have coupled the four works differs, the Leonore Piano Trio have followed the pioneering efforts of the Deakin Piano Trio (on two Meridian discs) in recording Parry’s trios and Piano Quartet. Whereas the Deakin enlisted violist Yuko Inoue for the quartet, the Leonore have called on Rachel Roberts. Robust and engaging as those older readings were, the Meridian discs are now some decades old and lack the sympathetic recording quality of the Hyperion cycle.

The Leonore are also highly sensitive interpreters of repertoire that is often heavily cloaked in a Schumann-Brahms axis – more often than not, the latter influence predominates…

Even when Parry is intent on big-boned structures that are finely conceived but seem to lack memorability he can spin a surprise, such as he does in the opening movement of the Piano Quartet, where a very beautiful and contrasting slower section – most affectingly phrased by the Leonore players and Roberts – unfolds with eloquence. The near-bucolic nature of the scherzo that follows is full of fancy, playfulness and drive – it’s the work’s high point – whilst the Andante is languid and calm. With a sturdy, confident, very professional finale the work makes a somewhat uneven impression; beautiful moments, and comradely jollity, but also stretches of more standard fare.

That is no reflection on the performers, who are right inside the notes, and are wise and generous interpreters.

Jeremy Dibble is the ever authoritative booklet note writer. This makes a fine companion to their recording of the First and third Trios.

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The core repertoire for viola and piano is not extensive. Part of it are these three works, which violist Rachel Roberts and pianist Lars Vogt put together in a complex programme. Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata seems to flow lightly, but is actually most profound music. Who else than the then only 27-year old composer could have so elegantly and skillfully translated life’s tragedies into music? Britten’s series of variations Lachrymae is a labyrinth of interwoven feelings with a sombre touch, posing the listener many a riddle. One senses the existential nature of Shostakovich’s last composition, too, the viola sonata op. 147, which was written by the dying composer in his last two months.

Rachel Roberts plays these masterworks with a light, breathing sound, which is never forced or pushed excessively. A simplicity prevails, never showing off or trying too much. Rather than mere size and volume, Roberts focuses on the variability of colours and subtle dynamic nuances.

It’s very convincing how Lars Vogt’s versatility helps shape this line. If the score demands it, he is able to grow to a real lion on the piano, and in the next moment retreat into the world of the quietest sounds. He has proven it many times as a chamber musician, especially at his own festival “Spannungen” in Heimbach, of which there are many live-recordings on the CAvi-label.

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The authenticity of the febrile and rich sound they created, together with their intensity of emotion, made this most memorable

The Guardian, Rian Evans

“Beethoven: Music in Revolution was the ambitious title given to this five-day festival, curated and performed by the Gould Piano Trio and friends. It offered an absorbing historical perspective on a composer who subverted rules, pushed boundaries and used shock tactics, as well as capturing his rigour and passion.”

“Violinist Gould and Frith combined fire and expressive power in Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, and its pairing with Janáček’s Kreutzer Sonata string quartet, based on Tolstoy’s short story of the same name, was inspired. David Adams, Gould, Rachel Roberts and Alice Neary may not formally be a quartet, but the authenticity of the febrile and rich sound they created, together with their intensity of emotion, made this most memorable.”

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23/10/2020