Tchaikovsky The Romantic Genius at Kings Place – Rosamunde Trio

Souvenir d’un lieu cheer, Op.42
Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op.33 [arr. Wilhelm Fitzenhagen for cello and piano]
Piano Trio in A minor, Op.50

Rosamunde Trio [Martino Tirimo (piano), Ben Sayevich (violin) & Daniel Veis (cello)]

Reviewed by: Edward Clark

Reviewed: 19 May, 2012
Venue: Hall One, Kings Place, 90 York Way, King’s Cross, London

This was a fitting climax of the four-day festival celebrating Tchaikovsky, The Romantic Genius. Given the venue only instrumental and chamber works were played thus offering only a partial exposé to the Romantic Genius title.

But, in a more intimate context, this recital proclaimed almost every aspect of this special quality, which is hard to define but instantly recognisable, particularly in the magisterial Piano Trio.

Before this wonderfully moving work was performed the members of the Rosamunde Trio separated themselves to offer sparkling and scintillating accounts of two favourites; Souvenir d’un lieu cher is a three-movement suite offering lyrical romanticism in abundance, supplied in great style by Ben Sayevich and Martino Tirimo. There followed an arrangement for cello and piano of the Rococo Variations by the work’s dedicatee, Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, originally written for cello and orchestra. Daniel Veis took full opportunity to project his silky skills in a way that allowed the cello to be heard to best advantage.

So to the great and tragic Piano Trio (‘In memory of a Great Artist’), written in remembrance of pianist Anton Rubinstein whose death created a devastating effect on Tchaikovsky, which may be surprising to anyone aware of Rubinstein’s very public rejection of the composer’s First Piano Concerto. To fully appreciate this spellbinding work surely requires a degree of life’s fullest experiences particularly those centred on grief. Certainly the members of the Rosamunde Trio gave every impression of such feelings in their wonderful account. The raw intensity of the music in the first movement was projected with sublime sense of loss. There is no greater expression of longing and loss in all Tchaikovsky than the first movement’s second subject. When it reappeared on violin it was as if time stood still in memory of all our own emotional wounds encountered in life’s rich tapestry. The second movement, a ‘Theme and Variations’ was delivered with panache and the finale culminated in a crushing coda where everything dissolved into a bleak farewell. After that the encore of one of the happier Variations was entirely unnecessary.

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