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Classical music trio wows Hungerford

Former Newbury musician James Toll returns for Arts for Hungerford recital

Trish Lee

trish lee


01635 886663

Classical music trio wows Hungerford

London Classical Trio

REVIEW BY FIONA BENNETT: Arts for Hungerford:London Classical Trio, at Hungerford Town Hall, on Saturday, March 7

WE were slightly late leaving home for Saturday’s Arts for Hungerford concert by The London Classical Trio, so I took full advantage of the national speed limit along the A4 and we were parked up and collecting our tickets by 7.20pm, but were slightly concerned to note we were the only people there. Where was the audience? Out buying loo rolls? Or maybe another bottle of hand sanitiser? When we saw the start time on the programme, I heaved a huge sigh of relief... we had, in fact, arrived 40 minutes early.

It is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth and this was to be an all-Ludvig concert but, as John Paul Ekins (piano) so passionately and eloquently explained, the trio had chosen two piano trios in total contrast to one another – Opus 1 No 3 in C minor and Opus 97, the ‘Archduke’. His intro chat was wonderful and without consulting any notes he regaled us with how Beethoven loved to shock the Viennese posh nobs with his sudden loud notes or even the odd clashy chord.

The trio took in a deep breath, exchanged glances and the ensuing performance grabbed us from the first note, right up to the final double bar line. Fast and furious in places, melodic and tender in others, this was a trio of musicians clearly relishing one another’s musicality and the connectivity between them was

James Toll (violin, who grew up in Newbury) and John delighted us with their communication, which at times was uncannily together, as though they thought as one and Jonathan Rees (cello) underpinned the whole thing with a beautifully mellow sound, throwing the odd flash of virtuosity out to us, as and when the music demanded.

We applauded loudly, attended the bar and the loo (washing our hands and singing Happy Birthday twice as we did so) and took our seats for the second half – a quite different kettle of fish, with more moderate tempi and greater breadth in its construction. We consoled ourselves that Beethoven’s piano was probably
difficult to tune, but it was a shame our, more modern, instrument wasn’t spot-on, a shame. The sheer exuberance in the Scherzo had us beaming and such was the joy of music making, even the foot-tapping on stage felt right. “A warm-hearted and generous piece,” said John in his introduction and we marvelled at his playing in the Andante Cantabile variations as he managed to wring out every last drop of emotion from the music.

I could write another three pages about this concert. It was a truly memorable evening and if you ever get the chance to hear these three fellas perform, grab it.

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