Wellhayes Vineyard (Devon), Bridport Arts Centre (Dorset), Ilminster Arts Centre (Somerset), Dance House, Crewkerne (Dorset)
TRIO Sōra was the memorable opening tour of the 14th Season for Concerts in the West, featuring the Trio of Pauline Chenais (piano), Magdalēna Geka (violin) and Angèle Legasa (cello), who presented a programme of compositions by Beethoven (Piano Trio Opus 1, No. 1), Clara Schumann (Piano Trio in G minor) and Brahms (Piano Trio in B major).
Playing to capacity audiences, Trio Sōra performed with a collective power and commitment that was infectious and much appreciated by its audiences. To be successful with the Brahms Trio, there can be no holding back in terms of engagement within its various moods and emotions. The challenge is to find the right balance between the restrained and the over indulgent. For example, the very playful Scherzo can become the victim of a tempo verging on freneticism and a first movement (Allegro con brio) subject to too much misjudged rubato. Trio Sōra avoided these traps and the Adagio had a well-judged calmness and serenity.
For the Clara Schumann trio to be featured alongside the youthful trio by Brahms was an apt decision of programming. During his visit to Düsseldorf in 1853 the young Johannes Brahms regularly met with Robert and Clara Schumann. The latter were amazed at the young man’s pianistic and compositional precociousness. It was the start of a life-long and serious friendship between Clara and Johannes and during his stay there, Brahms wrote his B major Trio, later revised in 1889.
Clara was a brilliant pianist and an accomplished composer. Her Piano Trio has stood the musical test of time and remains a work much enjoyed by both performers and listeners. There are moments of pure tenderness, such as the Andante movement, while dash and verve drawn along by song-like melody are the hallmarks of the first movement. Trio Sōra engaged with these features with shared understanding and unanimity.
Like Brahms and Schumann, Beethoven was in his early years known for his virtuoso piano playing. Hence, the first movement of his E flat Trio Op 1 asks the violin and cello to take on a subordinate brief while the piano is given the technical limelight. In this, Chenais entered into the role with alacrity. The following Adagio revealed the lyrical capacity of the Geka and Legasa’s instruments and in the Scherzo all three performers gave us an appropriate sense of skittish humour.
During the course of the three works and the four concerts, the strengths of Trio Sōra became clear. Magdalēna Geka, Angèle Legasa and Pauline Chenais have undoubted individual musical abilities, a collective respect for the music and a sensitivity for each other’s specific function at any given point. In addition, their presentation was courteous, charming and professional.
Review submitted by AM