Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us
Kungsbacka Piano Trio

Grieg - Andante con moto
Mozart - Piano trio in B flat, K502
Arensky - Piano trio No.1 in D minor, Op.32

Kungsbacka Piano Trio
Simon Crawford-Phillips (piano)
Malin Broman - violin
Jesper Svedberg (cello)

Blackheath Halls Sun 13 May 2007, 11am


This Blackheath Sundays Recital saw the Kungsbacka Trio's welcome return to the Halls after several years.

The key to any piano trio recital is striking a musical balance between the instruments, establishing that balance, and choosing repertoire that allows for all three musicians to make equal contributions. The danger always is of piano and violin working together with “cello continuo”.

This splendid concert maintained the balance superbly.

The Grieg sonata fragment opened the concert in grand style and it is to be regretted that Grieg did not complete this splendid piece. The Mozart trio followed, Simon Crawford Philips displaying an excellent Mozartian concerto-playing style, with skilful accompaniment from his two Swedish partners.

In retrospect, the heart of the recital however was the wondrous Arensky trio which comprised the second half. This is my favourite of all Russian piano trios and it is full of melodic invention, wit and soulfulness within a true balance of forces.

The Kungsbackas brought out the great melodic soundworld of the first movement and then injected the right degree of wit and playfulness into the second. Ms Broman’s playing managed both a subtlety in playing with Arensky's inventions, with a joyful ‘vamping’ up of the humour.

The third movement, a tribute to the Russian cellist Karl Davidoff, and with a special focus on Jesper Svedberg, could not have been more beautifully played. The final movement reunited themes from earlier in the work.

The audience left the recital room quite stunned by this marvellous playing and this marvellous music.

M Dennis

I too was at this splendid recital. With still the same membership since being founded ten years ago, Kungsbacka Piano Trio has gone from strength to strength in the intervening decade. They are well established internationally, and have an eponymous annual chamber music festival in Kungsbacka, Sweden.

I reviewed them for S&H in 2000, when they were BBC Radio 3's New Generation Artists in 2000, and they were in peak form on return to Blackheath this month. With the curtains behind the platform closed to dampen the sound a little, the wide-open Bösendorfer, with Simon Crawford-Phillips' perfect articulation, sounded crisp and clear in Mozart's Bb trio K.502; he achieved well judged balance with the string duo. It was sandwiched between two works of high romanticism.

Grieg's little known single movement Andante con moto (1878) indulges a melody with repetition to an extent it really cannot bear, but was worth hearing, if only the once.

Arensky's D minor piano trio Op. 32, composed in memory of the cellist Karl Davidov, is a no holds barred romantic effusion in a Tchaikovskian idiom. The intensity of the outer movements has as their foil a sparkling witty scherzo, a piece which could stand alone as a successful encore item.

Although the reception was enthusiastic, applause was not maintained for quite long enough to ensure an encore; partly because the players at Blackheath have to walk the whole length of the Recital Room auditorium to reach their exit... All in all this was a memorable Sunday Morning concert, and just the right length.

Kungsbacka Piano Trio records for Naxos * and there is a trio by Karen Rehnqvist promised by BIS to look forward to. [Editor]

* q.v. http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2000/jan00/Kungsbacka.htm
and http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2006/Nov06/Schubert_Trio_8555700.htm]