Posted on October 23rd, 2010

Wigmore Hall

The series is called “Leif Ove Andsnes and Friends” and for the gifted Norwegian pianist that would seem to be as good a basis as any for meaningful chamber music. But there is more to it than that, of course, and most of “it” is contained in that magic word synergy. A star soloist like violinist Christian Tetzlaff can learn a lot from a natural chamber music player like his cellist sister Tanja – and all three are nothing if not well blended in a work like Schumann’s early piano trio Fantasiestücke. No room for stars there.

It was a good place to start, a good place to establish an integrated sound, because in this piece even the piano is less the leading voice than the textural and harmonic foundation of the sound with the string voices embellishing and enriching, often by way of little canonic responses. It was a handsome, inviting, blend but almost a relief when the string players took the lead in the third movement “Duet” and Christian was at last freed to fleetingly do what he does so well – soar uninhibitedly.

The “Fairytale” centre to this well constructed programme then gave the limelight to Andsnes and Tanja Tetzlaff as Janacek’s Pohadka invoked the dappled natureworld of the composer’s Cunning Little Vixen counterbalancing a verdant lyricism with the tooth-and-claw brutality lurking beneath. The folksy epilogue (a happy ending for sure) sat comfortably with Dvorak’s Sonatina in G where Christian Tetzlaff revelled in the Slavonic dances that got away and happily resigned to another fairytale ending where Dvorak, in his dreams, returns home from America.

But it was late Schumann – Piano Trio No.3 in G minor – which finally brought the accomplished trio into sonic and emotional focus. It’s quite a storm-surge which carries Schumann’s troubled soul into that long dark night but as ever with this composer there is uplift in the music defining him. Andsnes and the Tetzlaffs conjured a rich, brooding sonority from the melancholic slow waltz of the central Larghetto with Tanja’s warmly expressive cello musing restlessly up and down the fingerboard. But it was the return of the opening theme which brought the most soulful harmonies and magically, reassuringly, the healing light of an angelic voice high in the keyboard.

Posted in Reviews


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