Piano Trio in E flat, HXV:10
Piano Trio No.3 in F minor, Op.65
ATOS Trio [Thomas Hoppe (piano), Annette von Hehn (violin) & Stefan Heinemeyer (cello)]
Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood
Reviewed: 4 November, 2013
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
The ATOS Trio has paired Haydn and Dvořák to good effect on a previous visit to the Wigmore Hall. The three musicians sit very closely together, emphasising the intimacy and singularity of their interpretations. They began this BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert with Haydn; a work completed in 1785 and sent to London for publication. There is, unusually, no slow movement, with an amicable Allegro moderato, here genial with a touch of caution, followed immediately by a sparkling finale. As ever with Haydn there is an abundance of melodic invention and wit running through a very enjoyable musical discourse, and this performance made the most of all those qualities. The dexterity of Thomas Hoppe was a feature of the last movement, whose theme was like a running tap that could not be turned off! The strings’ semiquavers were impressively unified with the piano, too, despite a challenging tempo.
Of the four piano trios completed by Dvořák, the F minor is the darkest, an often-sombre utterance that goes through considerable strife before a victory of sorts is achieved in the closing bars. There are many Brahmsian parallels here, with an identical key and similar profile of the opening theme to his Piano Quintet, while one distinctive melody in the slow movement gives notice of Dvořák’s imminent Seventh Symphony. The piece was written in 1882, soon after the death of Dvořák’s mother – the slow movement carried a strong sense of loss and remembrance, not least in Stefan Heinemeyer’s yearning cello line. As the coda reached for serenity there was a particularly searching solo from Annette von Hehn, notable for its exceptional clarity of tone. The faster movements bristled with conflict, the players achieving an impressive depth of sound, the balance between the three instruments ideal. The second movement, a Slavonic scherzo, danced gracefully at first but ultimately carried a threatening tone, which made the sweeter trio an affecting contrast. The agitation remained until the finale, argumentative while striving for resolution through its lighter waltz-like episode. The passionate culmination was well won to complete a performance of great quality.