Live Music Review:
The London Piano Trio & Friends At St. John's, Smith Sq.,
London SW1, Saturday 6th July 2013
In Association With The Intercultural Society of London

London Piano Trio & Friends

London Piano Trio :
Robert Atchison - violin
Olga Dudnik - piano
David Jones - cello

& Friends:
Bill Hawkes - viola
Christopher Laurence - double bass

St John's, Smith Square
Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA
Saturday 6th July 2013, 7.30pm

Date of Review: 2013/07/07

All illustrations by and © Alban Low


Mozart: Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor K478
London Piano Trio & Bill Hawkes

Jed Balsamo: Piano Trio No.2 (first performance)
London Piano Trio



Schubert: Piano Quintet in A D.667 ‘Trout’
London Piano Trio, Bill Hawkes, Christopher Laurence
The London Piano Trio & Friends At St. John's, Smith Sq.,
London SW1, Saturday 6th July 2013

Presented in association with The Inter-Cultural Society of London, last night's, Saturday 6th July's, London Piano Trio & Friends At St. John's, Smith Sq., London SW1 was to be something of a special event, featuring the first ever premiere of a classical work by a Philippine composer, Jed Balsamo, in London, and a world premiere at that. Balsamo's Piano Trio No.2 was commissioned for the London Piano Trio by the Inter-Cultural Society of London.

Robert Atchison
Robert Atchison

The first half of the programme opened with Mozart's Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor K478, with the London Piano Trio of Robert Atchison, violin, Olga Dudnik, piano and David Jones, cello, augmented with Bill Hawkes, viola.

The superb London Piano Trio should need no introduction here, nor should the excellent Bill Hawkes, who has performed and recorded with the London Piano Trio on numerous occasions. It is always an immense pleasure to listen to such world-class musicians, and I would find it very hard to imagine any equals to the London Piano Trio.

David Jones
David Jones

The Mozart, a somewhat revolutionary work in its time, is always a delightful quartet. But then, it would be hard indeed to find anyone who does not love Mozart. For me, his two piano quartets have always been amongst his more 'adventurous' chamber works and amongst my favourites, I have to confess.

At the masterful hands of the London Piano Trio and Bill Hawkes, the Mozart was more than merely delightful, it was exquisite, sheer piano quartet heaven would not be too strong a way of putting it. It was an enchanting performance of this work the like of which I cannot recall.

Christopher Laurence
Christopher Laurence

A more wonderful, as well as perhaps challenging prelude to a new work would be hard to imagine.

The world premiere of Balsamo's Piano Trio No.2 duly followed. In consisting of an extended movement in three sections certainly placed it in the modern world, but the beginning of this work had a distinctly conventional, almost classical feel to it. As it progressed, this turned more and more modern, if you like, though certainly not in the sense of anything remotely 'avant-garde,' I have to add. I had been rather looking for some obvious Philippino connections in this work, and they were there but alas, like anyone not familiar with Philippino culture I have to confess to have missed them entirely.


However, present they certainly were. Rather than the conventional introduction of the principal themes, Balsamo used what he terms 'derivatives' of two musical ideas, a Philippino folk song, Bahay Kubo, and a patriotic song, Philipinas Kong Mahal, the latter by Dr. Francisco Santiago. These 'derivatives,' disguised in various fragments and episodes, slowly transform until being revealed together in their full original state towards the last portion of the recapitulation. This is followed immediately by the spirited coda, beginning and ending with the opening fragment of the Philippine National Anthem.

Olga Dudnik
Olga Dudnik

I regret to have to say that I would not have known either of the two songs used, nor the Philippine National Anthem, if they bit me on the nose. However, the approximate structure of the work was easily discernible even without foreknowledge of the above notes.

What matters far more though is that this was an excellent and highly enjoyable, sometimes challenging work that I would most definitely wish to hear again, and perhaps even on a recording. I felt most elated indeed by this performance. Congratulations to Maestro Jed Balsamo for an original, excellent and innovative new work. And to the London Piano Trio on such a superb performance of the same.

Both trio and composer were granted a well deserved, lengthy and most enthusiastic ovation as well as a presentation of Philippine floral garlands.

After the, much needed and appreciated, interval, the London Piano Trio & Friends At St. John's, Smith Sq., London SW1 concluded the evening's recital with Schubert's Piano Quintet in A D.667 ‘Trout’ - perhaps one of the best known, certainly by its nickname, of chamber works in the entire catalogue - with the London Piano Trio augmented by both Bill Hawkes, viola, and Christopher Laurence, double bass.

Bill Hawkes
Bill Hawkes

Laurence again will need no introduction to any aficionado of both classical music and jazz.

Again, in such masterful hands as this, the Schubert quintet was sheer delight, nay ecstasy, in all its glorious five movements. What better way could there have been to round off this glorious evening!

Needless to say, two encores were demanded and had by this appreciative audience.

Equally needless to say, the London Piano Trio & Friends At St. John's, Smith Sq., London SW1 recital was an unforgettable, glorious evening, and it is very pleasing indeed that the London Piano Trio have been given a regular residency at St. John's.

In closing, as always a big thank you to the recovered Rainlore's World's Artist in Residence Alban Low for the use of his brilliant illustrations of the recital and all his hard work in preparing them. His sketching hand was flying over his pad as if possessed again! To find out more about Alban Low's work and to see more examples of his exquisite art and to get a catalogue of posters and prints, please visit his web site and his blogs, Art Of Jazz and Art Of Folk. Prints of the images shown here are available at more than reasonable prices.

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