Review: 30 September 2021 – The Aronowitz Piano Trio

  • Schubert Notturno in E flat D.897
  • Schumann Piano Trio No.2 in F, Op. 80
  • Schubert Piano Trio No.1 in B flat, D.898

It was a great pleasure to be in the Forum Theatre for the first full length concert after the almost two year interval in which such concerts were not possible, and to welcome the return of the Aronowitz Piano Trio.

Tom Poster, the trio’s excellent pianist, introduced the concert by describing it as a programme of three sunny pieces, and so they were. We had comprehensive and well written programme notes, as always. They explained that the Schubert Notturno is thought to have been written to form part of a longer work – most probably the Schubert D.898 Piano Trio which was the final work in the programme, because the opening theme of the Notturno is related to that of the trio’s first movement. However Tom, speaking later, questioned that, because the Notturno, with its mystical mood, has a different feel from the D.898 trio, which he described as ‘much more of this world’.

The sound world created by these three very fine performers was enhanced by the attractive acoustics of the Forum Theatre, which enabled us to hear the individual instruments with great clarity and in good balance. At the start of the Notturno, the piano played arpeggiated figures while the violin and cello played as one; from the start the exceptional unity in performance of the two Johnston brothers was clear. It really was as if a single instrument was playing. I loved the (to me) extraordinarily rich mellow sound of the cello; clearly both it and the violin were fine instruments, as was the Steinway piano.

Throughout the concert it was fascinating to hear the varied ways in which Schubert and Schumann exploited the forces of the piano trio. In passages like the one mentioned above the piano part contrasted with the strings, sometimes with the violin and cello playing in canon. At other times the three instruments played as equals, or two of them accompanied soloistic passages from the
other. We also enjoyed the other elements we expect in Schubert and Schumann’s music – the romantic melodies and harmonic progressions, the textural contrasts – pizzicati, staccati and legati – the dynamic contrasts – from pianissimo passages to emotive climaxes – and the fluid rubato.

We left the theatre filled with the sunniness we had been promised, and with great admiration for these three fine musicians.

Malcolm Macleod