Good news comes in threes

Beaux Arts Trio Wigmore Hall / Barbican
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Like a vintage car, the Beaux Arts Piano Trio has had its working parts renewed several times, yet still runs with a precision that puts other models in the shade. At the Wigmore Hall on Thursday, and with the CBSO at the Barbican the following ev ening,it maintained its reputation as the Rolls-Royce of ensembles with programmes that included mainstream classics plus a novelty: Joaquin Turina's Piano Trio of 1926.

Ringing the changes on a three-movement pattern, the work puts its main part, a sonata, at the end, arriving there through a prelude and fugue and theme and variations. That's one way of reviving the form, and finding new and distinctive things for the instruments to say to each other which has been the main stumbling block for 20th-century composers with the exception of Ravel and Shostakovich.

Finding inspiration in the Ravel Trio, Turina absorbed its pristine sentiments and long lines while adding a personal, Spanish flavour that the Beaux Arts exploited in colloquial exchanges and sudden, melancholic asides. Neglected dead, as well as living, composers can benefit from the support of distinguished exponents. In this case, a fascinating gem was uncovered, brought to light by a group not often associated with its excursions beyond the standard repertoire.

There was more conversational flow in Mozart's G major Trio (K496) and in the dreamlike slow movement of Schubert's great B flat major Trio. At one point, deep in a drowsy paragraph, the trio seemed lulled to sleep, but were roused to fresh exertions by the pianist Menahem Pressler. Elsewhere, he preserved the delicate balance of strings and keyboard through strong yet restrained playing that bore the hallmarks of his experience as the surviving founder member of the ensemble.

Friday's performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto put the spotlight on the violinist Ida Kavafian and cellist Peter Wiley. Like divine comedians, they transformed the orchestral bluster of swaggering, parade-ground themes into cascades of runs and laughing trills, fantasy replacing formality as the opening symmetries of the first movement melted into sprightly duets. In the brief largo, the sonorous image was of Wiley's solo - the nearest Beethoven came to a cello concerto - underpinned by the soundof deep horns, an effect repeated when the whole trio took up the melody before launching into the dancing helter-skelter of the Polonaise finale.

No fewer than nine horns could be spotted in Strauss's Sinfonia domestica after the interval. the conductor, Mark Elder, asked for the work to be considered as much for its symphonic as its mothercare elements; a tall order, given the detail of the programme, but one which the clarity of his reading did much to assist. As the idee fixe of the family Strauss and a point of calm in the passionate parental loving and bickering, the theme for Bubi the baby took much of the weight, beautifully phrased on first hearing by Janice Knight playing the oboe d'amore.

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