Bekova Trio, Wigmore Hall, London

Click to follow

It's not often remembered that Haydn, in addition to his hundreds of symphonies, quartets and piano sonatas, also wrote 30 piano trios, and that among these are some of his finest creations. This is partly because they were primarily designed for amateur consumption - publishers lapped them up, to sell to the expanding domestic market - and partly because they sit at a pivotal point between the Baroque and Classical styles.

Haydn called them "sonatas" because that was what they initially were: piano sonatas with accompaniment. But he wanted to explore the possibilities of the newly invented fortepiano, and he progressively liberated the violin and cello, which moved from reflecting the pianist's right and left hand respectively, to finding individual voices of their own.

The sunny A major trio shows his invention going at full tilt, and the Bekova sisters did it justice. Eleonora, at the piano, spun out its opening ribbon of melody with limpid expressiveness, and Elvira echoed it on the violin, while Alfia supplied a sympathetic grounding on the cello.

The first movement's bold development section was beautifully paced, as was the second movement's economical grace. The way the lines sang out - and the way the cello was left centre-stage at one point, to slide down in a comical musical fart - was eloquent testimony to the sisters' lifelong artistic symbiosis.

The Bekovas are Kazakhs, trained in the Russian style in Kazakhstan, and graduates of the Tchaikovsky conservatoire in Moscow. And it must be this background that gives them a hotline to Dvorak, whose magnificent "Dumky " Trio they delivered in the second half of their programme.

There's not a superfluous note in this brilliant sequence of laments and dances - the "dumka" being a Ukrainian peasant form that Dvorak had employed in many other works before this late one in 1891, which immediately became very popular. Each of the six movements starts in ruminative melancholy - led plangently by the cello - which then alternates with sections of robust gaiety: nothing stays still for long, and the way the Bekovas chased through this landscape of clouds, darkness, and sunshine felt true to the composer's intention.

This was a very short concert but they gave two encores. An arrangement of the Russian dance from Stravinsky's Petrushka, and a march from Prokofiev's'Love for Three Oranges.

Comments