Venues! The Barbican Hall’s vastness is hardly ideal for a chamber recital, yet the numbers in the audience suggested otherwise: a smaller space would not have accommodated the many who wanted to hear this trio. André Previn was joined by ex-wife and continuing collaborator Anne-Sophie Mutter, and by friend Daniel Müller-Schott for this recital of old and new piano trios.
In the Mozart the piano announces the themes and dominates proceedings. The players were subdued, knocked sideways perhaps by a number of errors. Matters settled though and the opening Allegro was delicately defined by Previn. Mutter found many moods from her instrument, and Müller-Schott provided able support. Previn was in his element during the Larghetto, transporting us to a tender place. The Allegretto finale was dispatched in sprightly fashion.
The sixteen minutes of Previn's Trio No.1 (premiered at Carnegie Hall on 22 April 2009) took us on a splendid and varied journey. There was vigorous interplay to begin with; then the heartfelt invention of the middle movement, with its foreboding darkness, made us uneasy; and the finale's restlessness propelled the work to its conclusion in breathless fashion. This is music that warrants repeated listening.
The highlight of the evening was a wonderful account of Mendelssohn's First Piano Trio, full of exuberance and momentum, balances well-judged. It was lovely to hear the substantial piano part played with such finesse and probity, as well as Müller-Schott's powerful instrument taking-up what Previn pitched: the physicality of the cellist’s playing kept energy held within a coiled spring, and held one's breath. In the finale, grandeur and inevitability prevailed: a dynamic battle between musicians crowned this glorious achievement, honours deservedly shared.