The Gould Piano Trio and clarinettist Robert Plane gave us a wonderful concert last night: a beautifully paced programme, beautifully performed.
Debussy's Rhapsody for Clarinet and Piano was charming, capricious, wickedly difficult, elegantly and effortlessly played by Plane in just eight minutes of impressionistic gorgeousness.
Next, Huw Watkins's Four Fables... How many in the audience thought: "This is going to be the price we have to pay for the Beethoven which comes next"? And how many were won over by the lovely, lyrical work which we heard, each of the four 'fables' - miniature tone poems - with its own distinct tale to tell? (This listener went straight off to Idagio after the concert, to find more works by Watkins.)
Finally we were treated to Beethoven's mid-period Piano Trio Op. 70 No. 2, a work which grows and grows by degrees. The Goulds paced it well, and the programme notes (excellent, by the way) got it just right: "Beethoven pulls out his big finish by means of a wonderful crescendo; a whoop of delight, surely, and a splendid conclusion to this fine work." The audience was delighted.
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