Tetzlaff/ Fröst/ Andsnes, Wigmore Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

As a title, Märchenerzählungen (Fairy Tales), Op 132, may not exactly trip off the tongue. But when the luminously focused violin of Christian Tetzlaff glided into the third of these late Schumann pieces to the affectionate rippling of Leif Ove Andsnes's piano, with the refined young clarinettist Martin Fröst floating serenely through its stratospheric arc of climactic melody, the Wigmore Hall heard a mesmeric four-minute distillation of the purest lyricism.

And that was only the encore. The concert had opened on as high a level with a revelatory reading of Schumann's Piano Trio No 2 in F, Op 80 (1847), with the violinist's sister Tanja Tetzlaff holding her rich-toned own in the cello part. Not nearly so well known as the composer's Piano Quintet and Quartet from four years before, it was still written early enough in his career not to come in for the charges of self-imitation and mental deterioration that have tended to dog the reputation of his later chamber works.

Nor should it, for this is a work of cogent exuberance and authentic sentiment, brought to fervent, volatile life in a performance that seemed to miss scarcely a nuance or shading in its immediacy. The same approach could not quite convince one that Schumann's later and seriously neglected Piano trio No 3 in G minor, Op 110 (1851) is on quite the same level of freshness and invention. But Tetzlaff and his companions showed it to be far from incoherent, with its obsessive, arpeggio-driven opening movement and Hungarian gypsy-inflected scherzo.

In between, we heard two modern spin-offs of Schumannesque Romanticism. Gyorgy Kurtag's Hommage à R Sch, Op 15d (1990), for clarinet, viola and piano, proved an utterly characteristic sequence of aphoristic fragments, compressing intense feeling into a few jagged Bartokian moments and Webernesque sighs. Only the last of them extends more than a few bars: a kind of suppressed funeral march brought to an end by the clarinettist striking a single pianissimo thud on a bass drum. Uncannily, this performance was dogged by extraneous drama of its own, when not one, but two of Christian Tetzaff's viola strings successively broke.

There were no such ghostly interruptions to Berg's Four Pieces for clarinet and piano, Op 15, though the pieces themselves are ghostly enough - the hyperbolic feeling and fatalism of a late Romantic symphony shrunk to the dimensions of a set of Schumannesque character pieces. For sinuous incisiveness and refinement, Fröst can have few peers among current clarinetists, and Andsnes proved fully responsive. Don't miss the radio relay of this outstanding concert in June.

The concert will be broadcast on 27 June at 2pm on Radio 3

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