Thursday, May 11, 2006

Peter Nelson: new Piano Trio

By Susan Nickalls
From the - Fri 5 May 2006

Expression, in a variety of forms, was the theme of ECAT's last concert of the season, featuring music by Janácek, Wolfgang Rihm and a new work by the Edinburgh-based composer Peter Nelson. His piano trio In the Fog had a strong improvised feel with its quirky turns of phrase and inspired use of the instruments' percussive qualities.
Although Nelson's title is a nod to Janácek's In the Mist, played with superb delicacy and brilliance by pianist Peter Evans, his piece had more in common with Rihm's Attempts for Piano Trio, First Instalment Fremde Szene III. Unashamedly influenced by the German Romantics, particularly Schumann, Rihm's preference for spontaneity rather than coherent structure and well-articulated ideas can wear a little thin.
However, this sensitive performance by Evans, the violinist Ulrike Fenner and the cellist Su-a Lee gave the piece an intriguing, elegiac quality that raised it above tired mediocrity.
Rihm's "piece-fantasies" for violin and piano, Phantom und Eskapade, also suffered from a disjointed flightiness. Despite some interesting sonorous effects, particularly on the piano, the length at which Rihm indulged these fantasies outweighed the merits of the basic material. By comparison, Janácek managed to say so much with so little in the magical Russian-inspired Pohadka (A Tale) for cello and piano, where every note and phrase worked for the music.

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