Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor was a captivating introduction to a truly mind-blowing evening of rare chamber music.
Gentle limpid fluidity began a musical feast full of contrast with ghostly traces of the Orient and underlying Basque folklore. Meaty declamatory piano chords were matched by violinist Viviane Hagner’s assured energy. Ravel’s beguiling creativity at his most inventive.
Messiaen’s massive Quartet for the End of Time was written and first performed during his time in a Polish prisoner-of-war camp in 1941, to an audience of 400 inmates.
Here, pools of soft colours and overhead video projections (by Kathy Hinde) were additional, but this performance for the composer’s 1ooth anniversary spoke for itself.
Messiaen’s individuality is in every phrase, from the violin nightingale pirouetting with Kari Kriikku’s clarinet blackbird, to pianist Steven Osborne’s unobtrusive bell-like sonorities, and a tour-de-force for cellist Alban Gerhardt, whose control of long phrases was exquisite. In the finale Osborne’s sensitive piano chords accompanied gossamer whispers of the dying notes of the violin, illustrated by a golden sunlit sea in gentle motion.