Belfast Piano Trio

Composer Philip Hammond comes in from the rain for a transcendant performance in Belfast's Rosemary Street church

As something of a preview for their upcoming series, the organisers of the Summer Recitals at the First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street, Belfast, promoted a lunchtime recital on Friday May 15 – a cold, wet and most unwelcoming day on the outside.

Inside the church, the recital featured the newly formed Belfast Piano Trio.

Their only obvious connection with Belfast is that one of the players now lives in the city – that’s the violinist Joanne Quigley. She and her brother, pianist David Quigley, originally hail from the Newry and Mourne area and have both spent many years in foreign climbs learning their trade and gaining experience. The Bulgarian born cellist of the trio is Alexander Somov, and quite a find.

What’s in a name? The important aspect to note about this new trio is its performance potential and real promise for the future. It is clear from the opening bars of Shostakovich’s early Trio No.1 that the Belfast Piano Trio already play as a musical entity, unified in basic technical accomplishment and cohesive in interpretative overview.

And what a great sound they produce with these sentimental 'big tunes' which the 17-year old Shostakovich dreamt up in this one movement piece - the not too melancholic, romantic drive of this music is propelled by these three accomplished players, who in combination capture the uniquely Russian sound to perfection.

Beethoven’s Ghost holds no fears for these intrepid performers. I particularly admire the deftness of David Quigley’s playing. His technical prowess is matched by the richness of Somov’s cello tones and Joanne Quigley’s clear violin sonorities.

There is a lightness of touch all round, yet a musical understanding of form and content which carries the translucent textures of the first and third movements and recognises the depth and darkness of the second, from which the work takes its name.

Outside the rain falls, but inside this historic church a small but appreciative audience clearly enjoy the atmosphere of reflective calm enhanced by this absorbing, captivating concert. If this early performance is an indication of the ability of this new ensemble, then I for one hope that it’s not long before the Belfast Piano Trio return to their eponymous city.

Don’t forget about the Rosemary Street Summer Recitals – they begin on July 15 and run every week at lunchtime on Wednesdays until August 26.

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