Howard-Nabarro-Sharp Trio – Beethoven & Tchaikovsky

Piano Trio in B flat, Op.97 (Archduke)
Piano Trio in A minor, Op.50 (To the memory of a great artist)

Howard-Nabarro-Sharp Trio [Leslie Howard (piano), Benjamin Nabarro (violin) & Matthew Sharp (cello)]

Reviewed by: Robert Matthew-Walker

Reviewed: 6 November, 2008
Venue: St Peter’s, Eaton Square, London

Matthew SharpThe impressive London debut of the recently-formed Leslie Howard-Benjamin Nabarro-Matthew Sharp trio took place as part of the Eaton Square Concerts Series at the acoustically fine church of St Peter’s with a remarkably planned programme comprising two large works.

The opportunity of hearing such widely-admired and finely-matched players as these in such contrasting masterpieces was eagerly taken by a large and appreciative audience, which was rewarded with two exceptionally fine performances.

The ‘Archduke’ was quite superbly interpreted, notably by Leslie Howard who, from his exemplary placing of the opening theme, set the tone for a reading throughout of much musical distinction.

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio, in two large movements, ends with a lengthy set of Variations on a Theme said to encapsulate Nicolai Rubinstein’s character in various guises, which yet closes, after an extended and powerful exploration of this theme in many moods, in a state of regretful resignation. This unjustly neglected masterpiece was given an equally compelling account (the ‘Tempo di Mazurka’ variation being particularly appositely played), such as would convince even the most sceptic listener that the music manifestly does not deserve the relative neglect which has befallen it.

The performers responded to a standing ovation with a little-known arrangement of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise by Julius Conus, a composer of some merit and father of Rachmaninov’s son-in-law. It was a pleasure to welcome this outstanding new chamber ensemble.

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