Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

 Mendelssohn & Saint-Saëns

Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor Op. 66

Camille Saint-Saëns Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor Op. 92


Trio Wanderer (piano trio)

Vincent Coq (piano)

Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabedean (violin)

Raphael Pidoux (‘cello)


Wigmore Hall Coffee Concert, Sunday 4 th March 2007


The Wanderers (they pride themselves on their title) are a well-established, much-acclaimed ensemble. Their coffee concert excelled above all in the conversational moments, where the melodic themes are passed from one instrument to another – such as in the Mendelssohn first movement development.


They cultivate an astringent string tone, sweetened for dramatic effect at appropriate moments, the classic ‘silvery sound' perfectly suited to the trio repertoire. Coq was technically expert throughout, his virtuosic outbursts emerging organically from the movement textures. Only in a few moments did the general ensemble seem to lack absolute control.


In particular, the chorale-like peroration of the Mendelssohn finale brought out the grandiose architecture of the work, very reminiscent of the Reformation symphony. If there was a criticism, it was that the beginnings of all but the finale were flawed; the first too hesitant, the second too stodgy and heavy in the piano introduction (Coq was satisfyingly lyrical at lower volumes), the third a little lacking in focus in the string ensemble.


Is it the power of suggestion that means artists always seem most comfortable to us in pieces written by their compatriots? Saint-Saens' huge 5-movement trio is by turns impressionistic, allusively witty (more than a gesture towards salon music, both dance and background), dramatic and contrapuntal. It would also not be out of place as a “Fauré Op 30-ish” piece.


The Wanderers' performance was immensely enjoyable, detached yet passionate, equally well adapted to the unashamed waltz-like vamp of a fourth movement and the fugato finale.


I have frequently complained of the lack of programme notes for these concerts – words are supplied for vocal programmes. Today I felt that since the Coffee Concerts are usually sold out (packed, with standing listeners today), the Hall therefore ‘needs' neither notes nor critics, particularly as so much of the programming involves extremely mainstream works. Yet, for once, we had a very substantial work unknown to most of the audience, who would surely have benefited from even a paragraph of textual exposition?


Ying Chang


For Saint-Saëns Piano Trio No. 2, see http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/liveevents/florestan_barbican.htm