north east scotland's festival of new music

press reviews

Fidelio Trio

Written by Alan Cooper

reproduced with permission


Music in the University - Fidelio Trio - Zeste at Crombie Hall

The Fidelio Trio: Darrah Morgan (violin), Robin Michael (cello) and Mary Dullea (piano) was formed in 1994 when its members were scholarship students at the Royal School of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Masters of the finest virtuoso playing, they are equally at home turning their skills to the technical extravagances of the newest music or to the more familiar but equally demanding requirements of traditional music. Thus their performance of Salvatore Sciarrino's Piano Trio No.1 was every bit as riveting as their dazzling account of Ravel's Piano Trio with which they concluded their performance.

It began with Archie, the rather whimsical but memorable title of Joe Cutler's piano trio. Initially, most of the action centred on the steely percussive piano part with its jumps and trills played martellato by Mary Dullea. The strings supplied a more soft edged wash to surround what was happening keyboard wise.

There was actually a lot of music going on beneath the surface of Salvatore Sciarrino's Piano Trio No.1 but the sounds he creates being so new and so unique tended to distract from that. It is a work that needs to be heard a few times if one is to penetrate beneath its surface. Once again the piano with its sparkling ripples and cascades was prominent though the skeletal whispers of the strings and especially the busy cello part with its swoops and shivers were a constant source of fascination.

Compared with the first two pieces, Metamorphoses by Haflidi Hallgrimsson was more conventional though thoroughly modern in style. He composed it as an "in memoriam" piece to the fondly remembered leader of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, John Tunnell, whose name lives on in the award named after him. It was a substantial work starting with bell-like sounds on the piano while the strings wept softly in the foreground. The climax of the piece came when the violin and cello began a unison lament that grew and swelled before the music subsided again recalling the opening of the piece. Though generally quiet, gentle and reflective, it was a powerful and effective piece, not unlike the personality of John Tunnell himself.

Ravel's Piano Trio has an amazingly eclectic range of inspirations from a Basque dance form in the opening movement to a Malaysian verse form in the second and a well established baroque tradition in the third. Ravel however makes these his personal property. Once again, the piano played a prominent role in the Trio projected with startling virtuosity by Mary Dullea. To a certain extent this can be a problem which is inherent in the form itself and with the projective power of the modern piano. Still, the violin and cello did get their chance to shine especially in the gorgeous Passacaille and in the lively well-pointed Finale. This was really as fine a performance as one is likely to hear.

Original article reproduced here with kind permission.

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14Fri7.45 pmAberdeenFidelio Trio