Gig Review:
Sally Silver Et Al - Massenet Songs; London Piano Trio - 1st Piano Trios -
Mendelssohn & Cotter Nixon Album Launch At St. John's, Smith Sq.,
London SW1, Tuesday, 20th November 2012
Guild Music Presents

Massenet and Mendelssohn
A celebration of two exciting new CDs on the Guild Music label

Sally Silver - soprano
Richard Bonynge - piano
Gabriella Swallow - cello

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

St John's, Smith Square
Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA
Tuesday 20th November 2012, 7.30pm

Date of Review: 2012/11/21

All illustrations by and © Alban Low


Henry Cotter Nixon (1842-1907) Piano Trio No. 1 In C Major
Allegro (first movement)
London Piano Trio

Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet - Songs
Jamais plus! - Ma petite mère a pleuré - C'est l'amour - Ave Maria - Sonnet
Sally Silver and Olga Dudnik

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) Trio No. 1 In D Minor, Op. 49
1. Allegro
London Piano Trio



Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) Trio No. 1 In D Minor, Op. 49
2. Andante - 3. Scherzo allegretto - 4. Allegro vivace
London Piano Trio

Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet - Songs
Ivre d'amour - À deux pleurer - Amours bénis - Élégie - Enchantement
Sally Silver and Richard Bonynge
with Gabriella Swallow
Sally Silver Et Al - Massenet Songs; London Piano Trio - 1st Piano Trios -
Mendelssohn & Cotter Nixon Album Launch At St. John's, Smith Sq.,
London SW1, Tuesday, 20th November 2012

Last night's recital at what I have always considered one of London's most excellent venues, St. John's, Smith Square, opened with the London Piano Trio's performance of Henri Cotter Nixon's Piano Trio No. 1 In C Major, Allegro - First Movement. The Cotter Nixon is an exquisite work, if relatively long, which accounted for the fact that only the first movement was included in this programme. This was, however, a pity, and I would not have minded one jot staying longer to hear the full work, especially having already heard the London Piano Trio's exquisite recording (a review of which will follow). Their live performance was, to say the least, breath-taking.

This was followed by soprano Sally Silver accompanied by pianist Olga Dudnik of the London Piano Trio and Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet - Songs, consisting of Jamais plus!; Ma petite mère a pleuré; C'est l'amour; Ave Maria and Sonnet.

Img. of Olga Dudnik
London Piano Trio pianist Olga Dudnik

Thus far, I have to confess, I could either take Massenet, or I could leave him. A no doubt unjust indifference. However, when the extraordinary voice of Ms. Silver filled the hall, powerful yet effortless with no noticeable sign of breathing, as if emerging from the ether, and expressive and sensitive to the finest nuances, something extraordinary happened that can only be described as magic.

Within less than a full song, this wonderful statuesque young lady had me completely converted to Massenet. It is   easy  to  see why  Ms. Silver's  star  has  been  in  the


ascendant so fast and so high. A finer, more exquisite interpretation it would be hard to imagine. Ms. Dudnik's accompaniment was likewise exquisite and sensitive.

The first half of the Massenet songs in this recital thus were an absolute delight, visually enhanced also by the two glamorous young ladies. Too often still, performers tend to neglect the visual aspect of a performance, but this was certainly not an accusation that could have been made on Tuesday night.

The London Piano Trio, comprising of Robert Atchison, violin, Olga Dudnik, piano, and David Jones, cello, concluded the first half of last night's performance with the first movement of Felix Mendelssohn's Trio No. 1 In D Minor, Op. 49, with the remainder of the trio to follow in the second half.

The Mendelssohn is one of the finest in the repertoire and has always been a firm favourite here. The London Piano Trio's interpretation of this first movement could only be described as perfection itself. Their performance was an exquisite delight.

Img. of David Jones
London Piano Trio cellist David Jones

This gentle but lively Allegro could transport one right out of the hall and into whatever scene it might evoke in the individual listener. Not a nuance missed, sensitive and expressive, this was sheer bliss.

Much as the break between this and the remainder of the trio was to be regretted, the interval was nonetheless welcome, a necessity even, after so much intensity.

Img. of Robert Atchison
London Piano Trio violinist Robert Atchison

The London Piano Trio continued with the Mendelssohn as they had started. Through the dream-like Andante, the vivacious Scherzo, and onto the final passionate Allegro, one was left as if freed of corporeality. The world had ceased to exist. A finer performance would be hard to imagine, nay, impossible.

Ms. Dudnik and Atchison and Jones are all performers of considerable standing individually. Combined as the London Piano Trio, they are to the trio as the Lindsay were to the string quartet. Nothing less than perfection. Their passion takes one right along to realms of sheer ecstasy.

Img. of Sally Silver
Soprano extraordinaire Sally Silver

The Mendelssohn and the London Piano Trio were followed by the return of the extraordinary Sally Silver, now accompanied by renowned conductor/pianist Richard Bonynge. The latter had, with Dame Joan Sutherland, given the inaugural recital on 6th October 1969 following the restoration of St. John's, and had also given a 20th Anniversary recital in 1989 in aid of the Organ Appeal.

Renowned conductor Richard Bonynge

The songs of this second half of the Massenet Songs were Ivre d'amour; À deux pleurer; Amours bénis; Élégie and Enchantement.


The performance of the first two of these, Ivre d'amour and À deux pleurer, was every bit as excellent as that of the first half. Ms. Silver's voice leaves one breathless with its power and beauty. Indeed, such is the power of her voice that one might have grown concerned for the safety of any glass in the vicinity.

Following À deux pleurer, a most stunning, extraordinary vision seemed to glide onto the stage, as if having stepped straight out of a Dante Rossetti or a Maillais! A Pre-Raphaelite painting come to life! Such was the impact of cellist Gabriella Swallow's entrance, leaving one entirely bereft of breath and senses. A slender young lady, with a shock of wild, fire-red hair, of an alabaster pallor, clothed in an equally stunning emerald dress, Ms. Swallow was indeed a vision that cannot be forgotten.

If this image was not carefully cultivated, nay designed, it certainly ought to have been.

Img. of Gabriella Swallow
Cellist Gabriella Swallow

Accompanying Ms. Silver and pianist Bonynge for Amours bénis and Élégie, Ms. Swallow's cello was as captivating as her appearance. It is little surprise that hers is the fastest rising star on the cello firmament, and her immense talent and sensitivity remind a little of the late Jacqueline Du Prés.

Following Enchantement, and an over all performance by Sally Silver and Richard Bonynge that was nothing short of sensational, a couple of encores were most vociferously demanded and given.

The immense combined talents of Robert Atchison, Olga Dudnik and David Jones of the London Piano Trio, and Sally Silver, Richard Bonynge and Gabriella Swallow made for a most memorable recital indeed. An experience that was a sheer delight.

N.B. - A big thank you to artist Alban Low for the use of his brilliant illustrations of the gig and all his hard work in preparing them. 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, please visit his web site.

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