Carneval String Trio, Concerts in the West

Kamila Bydlowska violin, Shiry Rashkovsky viola, Timothée Botbol cello; performances in Lower Pulworthy, Hatherleigh; Bridport Arts Centre; Ilminster Arts Centre Ilminster and The Dance House, Crewkerne

THE wonder of the violin, viola and cello trio is the immense possibilities that it holds for compositional creativity and listener response. The range of pitch, tone-colours and texture capabilities of these instruments is enormous. The programme chosen by Carneval String Trio during their Concerts in the West tour of four locations in three days exemplified much of the natural potential of this combination.

In his early C minor trio, Beethoven exploits the huge dynamic range that the bow can generate, sometimes asking three instruments through double and triple stopping and other devices to take on the power of a full orchestra. The Carneval String Trio’s playing responded to this with full vigour and the musicians were equal to the cerebral challenges of structural and phrasing considerations that Beethoven always demands. Particularly in the slow movement, Kamila Bydlowska gave a suitably poised and sensitive commitment to the violin’s upward spiralling lines.

Shiry Rashkovsky is capable of producing exactly the right colour for the moment. In Dohnányi’s truly wonderful Serenade (1902), Rashkovsky gave us a very apt velvet touch in the Romanza movement. Zoltán Kodály’s brief Intermezzo inspired by Dohnányi’s piece was a clever addition to the programme.

In the string trio it is easy for the cello to dynamically and tonally dominate what should essentially be equilibrium. On both accounts Timothée Botbol played a critical and successful role, occasionally applying the tiller sensitively to maintain tempo and dynamic balance.

The emotional poignancy of Carneval’s programme was undoubtedly Gideon Klein’s String Trio of 1944. Written several weeks before the Nazis transported Klein to Auschwitz, this work, full of dark colour and foreboding in the Lento movement, nevertheless grows out of his Moravian Jewish roots with a spring-like opening folk dance Allegro and a gypsy-like fiddle Finale. Each Carneval player entered into this multi-dimensional work with passion and commitment, rising to its technical demands with general success.

Over the four performances of their tour, Carneval’s programme grew in maturity and this reviewer increasingly began to sense an open and considerate relationship between the players on and off the concert platform. The Carneval String Trio feels like an equilateral triangle: technically and musically balanced and respectful of the other two sides.

Andrew Maddocks

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