FRIDAY 22nd MAY 2015



Formed in 2014 and with a flexible line-up, the Pomegranate Piano Trio is a relative newcomer to a rather crowded musical scene – Music Nairn alone has had two superb piano trios presenting concerts already this season.  The Pomegranate Trio with pianist Andrew West, rather than the billed Robin Green, opened with Mozart's K502 Trio in Bb, immediately illustrating that in the hands of a great composer the small ensemble of piano, cello and violin is one which is rich in potential and surprisingly complete in texture.  If one or two fluffs marred some of the more intricate keyboard features, this was generally a lyrical and convincing performance, with a fine sense of line and melody.

However, when the group moved on to the Fauré Piano Trio opus 120 everything seemed to move up a gear.  This late work inhabits the same visionary world occupied by the two late Piano Quintets (opera 89 and 115), and is a work of magically shifting harmonies and quirky rhythms.  There were those among his contemporaries who thought that the elderly, almost blind composer had crossed a compositional line into illogic and dementia, when in fact he was entering an utterly new enchanted realm, which has its own alternative melodic and harmonic logic.  The diaphanous opening Allegro and the ensuing dreamlike Andantino brought some wonderfully idiomatic playing from the Trio, led by Andrew West at the keyboard, himself a great champion of Fauré's enthralling late repertoire.  The Allegro vivo finale brought the work to a simply sparkling conclusion, and the perceptive Nairn audience greeted this triumphant performance with sustained applause.

The second half consisted of Brahms' first Piano Trio opus 8 in B major, a work in which the youthful composer shamelessly wears his heart very much on his sleeve.  The ardent opening melody for piano and cello, exquisitely played by Andrew West and Rebecca Hepplewhite, establishes the world of inflamed passions which this whole work inhabits, and the Pomegranate Trio threw themselves into Brahms' plangent lyricism with huge commitment.  We were prepared to overlook one or two minor slips on violin and piano as the emotion gushed and the heart raced, and ultimately this was a fine performance of this remarkable youthful effusion.  A large audience had been attracted by this popular programme and was rewarded with an evening of first-rate music-making.

D James Ross


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