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David Matthews, Mendelssohn & Tchaikovsky

Mendelssohn Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op.49
David Matthews Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 61
Tchaikovsky Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50

Sitkovetsky Piano Trio
Alexander Sitkovetsky violin
Wu Qian piano
Leonard Elschenbroich cello

6.30 pm, 17 October 2010, London Chamber Music Series at Hall One, Kings Place

A goodly sized audience came to Kings Place for tonight's recital in the London Chamber Music Series (formerly at Conway Hall) which offers regular full length programmes early on Sunday evenings (whereas many concerts there are c.45 mins!).

Under new management, Conway Hall Sunday Concerts too continues to thrive (Red Lion Square, Holborn, at the same time !) so live chamber music lovers are spoilt for choice!

The young Sitkovetsky Piano Trio (Trinity College of Music, ex-Yehudi Menuhin School) played David Matthews 2nd piano trio Op 61 (1994) with excellent appreciation of its qualities and good balance between its mixtures of tension and relaxation in four movements which are "classical in shape and tonality" - extended tonality, I'd guess. The fierce scherzo contrasted well with the memorial Adagio to the composer's partner. This piano trio, new to me, earns a firm place in "the repertoire".

The Matthews was, to its own advantage, sandwiched uncomfortably between two of my unfavourite piano trios, Mendelssohn's No 1, which has far too many notes for the piano, and the monstrous Tchaikovsky, some 50 minutes long and, in this performance, dominated by sometimes unsubtle, ofen too loud, piano playing, as it came across in the bright acoustic of Kings Place.

Wu Quian, who made a very successful debut disc, deserves credit for coping with so demanding and strenuous a programme, but she often sounded heavy-handed and heavy-footed and I found myself continually focusing on the tasteful expertise of the string players.

See them though - well balanced and with the same page turner as last night - playing the first movement of the Mendelssohn on video last year (posted by Trinity College of Music), and a well filmed video of Elschenbroich playing the Dvorak concerto in Germany.

Peter Grahame Woolf

P.S. For ideal Mendelssohn chamber music pianism, see Yuja Wang in Verbier from a great DVD. which includes her in the Piano Sextet Op. 110 & Piano Concerto No. 1, plus a bonus of Stravinsky: Three Movements from Petrushka.