WHEN does Debussy not sound like Debussy? When it’s an early work like the Piano Trio, which takes until its final movement – and a fleeting influx of delicate frissons on the piano – to reveal any of the featherweight impressionistic traits that were to be his familiar thumb print.
Da Vinci Trio
Yet this 1880s composition is no less attractive and fulfilling, as last night’s performance by the Da Vinci Trio – Anthony Moffat (violin), Robert Irvine (cello) and John Thwaites (piano) – readily demonstrated. The underlying language is conservative in a post-Brahmsian way, cast though in a frivolous French dye, the glow of which radiated warmly in an unexpectedly cold Cottiers venue.
But the room’s dry intimacy suited the music, coupled with an interpretation that neatly balanced its liquid flow, its light-fingered delicacies and a structural framework as sturdy as a rock.
No identity crisis when it came to the programme’s partner work – Ravel’s Piano Trio. Robert Irvine, in his spoken introduction, was perfectly justified in claiming it to be a masterpiece, not least in the final two movements that play riskily with spare textures and extremes of compass (particularly in the piano), yet encompass some of the work’s most wholesome and profound statements.
It was also interesting to hear, in the languid pentatonic melodies, a similarity to Vaughan Williams, who studied with Ravel.
This was a bravely robust and thoughtful performance of a difficult and monumental work, that captured, more than anything, its spontaneous and irresistible charm.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 15 C
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