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Trio in Eb Op. 20 No. 5
Gomes Returning (World première)
Stravinsky Suite from The Soldier’s Tale
Khachaturian Trio for clarinet, violin and piano
Milhaud Suite for clarinet, violin and piano
Bartók Contrasts

Eidos Trio
[William Stafford - clarinet Ilya Movchan - violin Konstantin Lapshin - piano]

Wigmore Hall, 19 January 2011

An intriguing programme which attracted us to Wigmore Hall and kept all the regulars away... The Bartok, Milhaud and Stravinsky were familiar, but rarely heard nowadays and then only one or two of them in mixed chamber music programmes.

This coming together of brilliant Royal College of Music students, now busy professionals, proved even better than anticipated. Each is an accomplished master of his instrument and a good collaborator, always alert to the moment, never stealing the limelight from his colleagues. The five works were each distinctive and individual, making a well ordered programme, their different characters well conveyed in Anthony Burton's notes.

One of Vanhall's "Six trios for violin, clarinet and bass" suggested that a couple of them from period clarinettist Jane Booth might be welcome in recital or recording? The arrangement used here, by Weston and Bergmann (he, my recorder teacher in days of yore !) made the best of Wigmore Hall's Steinway whilst reminding us that a house fortepiano really is needed there.

Returning by Portuguese composer Pedro Faria Gomes (b. 1979) was a good choice for a new novelty, more interesting than most of those showcased by PLGYA last week.

Khachaturian's Trio - his only mature chamber music work - was folk-based with an Uzbek folk tune and extravagant decoration. Milhaud's Suite (his Op 157 out of more than 400) was arranged from incidental music to an Anouilh play, was pleasing, characteristic music with passages for violin and clarinet without piano. Stravinsky's arrangement is a practical reduction from the original, made for a keen clarinettist who'd backed the original production, and a worthwhile contribution to the clarinet trio genre. Bartók's Contrasts is the major work that I know in the genre ; an immaculate account of it tonight, even if William Stafford was too polite to indulge in the jazzy screech that a Benny Goodman (its commissioner) would have brought to it...

Despite audience enthusiasm there was no encore - one might have assumed because there was nothing else left for them to play (as did The Guardian's reviewer last week, who "scarcely knew there was enough cello octet repertoire to fill a concert, let alone justify the formation of a professional chamber group").

This is a case in which Wikepedia does its marvellous best in a comprehensive entry for "Clarinet-violin-piano trio". The genre was fully established by the Verdehr Trio's commissioning of over 200 new works since 1972.

I hope the good news will spread, and that the Eidos Trio will return to Wigmore Hall (but perhaps try Kings Place or Conway Hall first, where they might find a better welcome?) and explore some of the Verdehrs repertoire for us?

Meanwhile, I was pleased to note that last night's concert was being filmed, hopefully towards videos on YouTube and an eventual CD?

Peter Grahame Woolf