CBSO Friends, Festival Drayton Centre, Market Drayton - review
CBSO Friends first played together in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, so they’re used to performing in one of the finest concert halls in the world.
But chamber music needs a more intimate space and on Friday night the trio found it in the warmly receptive auditorium of the Festival Centre.
Their performance was a rare and thrilling treat.
Viola player Adam Römer is Hungarian. Cellist Richard Jenkins is currently completing doctorate studies in Hungarian music. And violinist Zoë Beyers is from South Africa, whose music, she says, 'is not dissimilar from Hungarian in that both are rhythm driven'.
Not surprisingly, they brought a high level of personal enthusiasm and enjoyment to a programme focussed on music by Hungarian composers.
But first, as if to introduce the clear and exhilarating sound of the string trio, they gave us Beethoven. He wrote his String Trio Op.9 No.3 in C minor when he was 28 and thereafter wrote quartets rather than trios. The Friends drew out the energy and passion in the Allegro, Scherzo and Finale of Beethoven’s final trio, which contrasted with the calm resignation of the Adagio.
Jenkins gave a helpful introduction to each of the following Hungarian pieces, starting with String Trio Op.1a by Miklós Rósza. Best known for his many film scores, which won 17 Oscar nominations and three awards, Rósza wrote the number in 1927 and substantially revised it in 1974. With its sharp contrasts in rhythm and playful warmth, the piece seemed to give as much pleasure to the CBSO Friends as it did the audience.
That feeling was sustained through a delightful Intermezzo for Violin, Viola and Cello by Kodály, from 1905, and into the final piece, Serenade for String Trio in C major by Dohnányi, from 1902. Jenkins gleefully explained that the piece was 'well-written for all three instruments and fabulously enjoyable to play'. And fabulously enjoyable it was to listen to.
‘Hungarian flavoured’ rather than nationalistically Hungarian, the piece contained both lyrical melodies beautifully passed between instruments and thrilling irregular rhythms. There was a passionate dialogue between violin and cello while the viola played arpeggios; but gorgeous tunes on the viola too. Römer’s body more than once lifted clear of his seat as he played.
This distinctive programme, performed by consummate musicians, was part of the Shropshire Music Trust’s regular series. Towards the end of this year the Festival Centre will launch its own series of ‘classical’ concerts with three performances by a range of top-flight professional performers between late autumn and early spring.
First up, in December, there will be a recital by international award-winning guitarist and composer Laura Snowden, whose performance The Guardian described as 'a poignant, mesmerising show'.
By John Hargreaves