The first piece had perhaps led to some wrong expectations: a work by the Swedish composer Sven-David Sandström, written in 2012, whose earlier works were influenced by minimalism and his teacher Ligeti. It seems perhaps that Sandström had an almost wicked sense of humour as the pianist told the audience ‘there will be some surprises’ – and so there were! His Four Pieces for Piano Trio was conceived as a work which changed without warning from emotional tonal melodies to repetitive almost harsh chords with elements of minimalism. Written expressively for the trio the clarity and atmosphere created was no doubt just what the composer envisaged, and the performance delighted the audience.
Smetana’s Piano Trio in G minor was a big change, losing the clarity of the Sandström for a more full chordal style which, with the piano lid fully open, the players took advantage of. Throughout the evening Soo-Jin Hong (violin), Soo-Kyung Hong (cello) and Jens Elvekjaer (piano) played with a wonderful range of tone, colour and some beautiful pianissimos, giving an excellent performance of this work which is imbued with sadness, being written shortly after Smetana’s daughter, aged four, died from scarlet fever. A performance to cherish.
Beethoven’s Trio in D, known as the Ghost, was from a very productive period in his life. The lengthy slow movement, marked Largo assai ed espressivo, can be played at many speeds and, for this reviewer, Trio con Brio picked one which was just about right. Slow enough to encompass the ghostly and eerie effect that Beethoven wanted and yet with enough movement to bring out the pauses and almost outbursts which can be really effective. The trio’s performance rightly led to prolonged applause and the fourth movement from Dvorak’s ‘Dumky’ trio as an encore.