Classical review: Artisan Trio, St Andrew’s and St George’s Church, Edinburgh

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The Artisan Trio’s series of concerts, curated by composers who studied in Edinburgh, continues with the Tbilisi-based Marina Adamia.

Artisan Trio

St Andrew’s and St George’s Church, Edinburgh

Star rarting: * * * *

The world premiere of her cycle of five pieces for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, fittingly titled Homage, pays tribute to the people and places who have influenced her music and life. While an eclectic mix of composers, such as Denisov and Lutoslawski, have had an impact on Adamia, she speaks with her own fresh and distinctive voice.

Perhaps the most audible influence comes from the folk music of her native Georgia, especially the country’s vibrant choral tradition. While this is an instrumental piece, these ancient vocal traditions are deeply embedded in the musical fabric; whispering through the crystalline string harmonics and anchoring the keening clarinet passages. This finely nuanced interpretation by the trio and guest clarinettist Peter Furniss, captured both the delicacy and strength of Adamia’s intricate and magical soundworld.

Bartok’s highly rhythmic, folk-infused Contrasts for clarinet, violin and piano was indeed a complete contrast. Originally written for jazz clarinettist Benny Goodman and Hungarian violinist Joszef Szigeti, who commissioned the work, Furniss and violinist Aisling O’Dea, delivered this complex piece with effortless virtuosity and aplomb.

Adamia’s final selection was the Adagio for Vedran Smailovic, written for the cellist of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war by Nigel Osborne, her composition teacher in Edinburgh. Cellist Clea Friend beautifully evoked the gut-wrenching sorrow of all wars, in this spellbinding performance.

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