20 April 2013

New music from the past

I doubt that I’ve ever heard a trio in this format, at least live. This was the JTL Trio, comprising clarinet, cello and piano, at St Albans on Thursday. These are such different sounds. The piano with its rippling notes and chords and percussive tone. Clarinet with its loud and cutting high-pitch and tongued notes. And the cello, with its bowed softness, low pitches and broad vibrato. Perhaps because they are so different, they sit together well but always sound distinct and identifiable. They started with a Beethoven trio. It was introduced as “early, not tempestuous” and this was clear: light and melodious adm dignified, somewhat like Mozart, with lines that moved in echoes between instruments. They played a string of movements as the trio. Then a duo of clarinet and piano on five modern pieces written by Paul Reade for a TV series called Victorian Kitchen Garden. These pictured the garden environment with titles like Summer and Spring and Mists. We heard birds and spikey exotica and calm days and lazy afternoons in the orchard. Then my favourite for the day, a Schumann Fantasy played by cello and piano, in two movements: tender with expression and quick with fire. Jack introduced it by speaking of a controversy in composition in the mid-19th Century. Apparently on one side was Wagner and the tone poets who sought to tell stories with music; on the other were those (including Schumann) who saw music as abstract, not identifiable or with shared meaning, just notes and sounds, pure and simple. I’ve pondered the same topic and tend to side with Schumann and his ilk, despite playing Night in Tunisia, Autumn in New York, April in Paris, Night and day, Body and soul, even Giant steps. Jazz tunes usually imply something real in their titles, although without words the references can be obscure. Then a final tune, by Max Bruch, performed again as a trio. This was another delightful outing at St Albans, with music and instrumentation that I’ve not heard before. JTL Trio are Tiffany Lick (clarinet), Jack Hobbs (cello) and Lucas Allerton (piano). BTW, congratulations to Louise Page who coordinates these concerts and was otherwise engaged – at Government House being presented with her OAM, no less!

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