Review: English Piano Trio at Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral, Apr 30

Pal Banda’s cello came from the Esterhazy court in the time of Haydn so it’s not entirely out of the question that it played the Trio in G minor, Hob.XV:1 when it, the piece and Haydn were all young. 

On a clear day, Haydn is your ideal man because he always seems such a cloudless musician. The opening moderato is sunny with Jane Faulkner and Timothy Ravenscroft exchanging intricacies and ornaments on violin and piano. The menuet and trio was eine kleine polished and, needless to say, civilised and such formality demands a presto finale. Its frolics and high-spirits didn’t let expectations down. I’m not aware that Haydn knew it was possible to end any other way. There was never a dull moment and never a cross word.

Chichester’s Yamaha piano has been played by any number of illustrious pianists but I doubt if any of them played the Trio, op.25 by Francis Edward Bache, pronounced Baitch, on it. No, I’ve not heard the name before either but I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of.

The Allegro brought to mind the famous Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and with his dates being the tragically short 1833-1858, that’s a workable comparison. With Pal more prominent with a very fair share of the melodic line, it’s a busy first movement and a very democratic piece because although the band is called Piano Trio, nobody is left in a supporting role for long and it is genuinely a trio. 

There were shades of melancholy in the Andante and the ghost of Mozart might have brought those in but the piano-led Allegro breezed happily without a care in the hands of these vastly experienced and impressively together players. There was still hardly a cloud in the sky.

Happiness writes white, as has been said, but we all benefit from some escape from our darker thoughts from time to time and the English Piano Trio provided a welcome tonic for the Chichester faithful.

David Green

Image (c) Gabriella Bokor

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