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Theaterforum Gauting eV - 17/3/24

Of course, the piano trio is a difficult genre, acoustically unfavorable due to the dominant piano, against which the violin and cello have to assert themselves. The trick is not to let these difficulties become audible. In over ten years of making music together, the international Trio Gaspard has brought this to perfection. Here three people make music like one, three people with completely different personalities who make their program shine with intelligence and originality.

The fixed star in this program is Joseph Haydn's rich trio work. The Trio Gaspard is working on a complete recording of over forty genre contributions and will provide an insight into the workshop in the Gautinger concert. It doesn't take more than two bars of the A major trio (Hob. Spring-like blossoming in the first movement, in which the three of them bring the rich decorations to life with chamber music intimacy. The second and final movement of the work shows the musical Haydn, influenced by the folk music of his homeland. The fact that Jonian Ilias Kadesha enriches his violin part with portamenti cheers is therefore legitimate and fits into the sound.

The Trio Gaspard is well-versed in all eras. When Robert Schumann's second piano trio (Opus 80) begins after the freshly performed Haydn, it is as if you were listening to another, no less interesting ensemble. Precisely differentiated in terms of tonal color, the trio offers the first movement in a warmly expressive manner. Because it behaves in a playful manner as if it were three people playing a single large instrument, it can allow itself rhythmic freedom that integrates organically into the context of the work. This becomes most clear in the slow movement. Here the three also have the opportunity to present their own musical characters with profound singing: Kadesha's fine, flexible violin tone; Vashti Hunter, who takes a more direct approach on the cello; Nicholas Rimmers cultivates articulate piano art. In the eruptive finale alone, a dozen different ways to play legato can be identified.

The second part of the concert evening shows that the Trio Gaspard likes to consciously create references across eras. Her Haydn project is linked to a series of commissions from composers who respond to Haydn's pieces in their works. The British Sally Beamish belongs to this circle of composers. A weightless performance of Haydn's E major Trio (Hob. The Trio Gaspard manages to create structures from the impressionistic, albeit dissonantly sharpened sounds: light, floating figures, music in the form of clouds.

In contrast, the final Hungarian Rhapsody Number 9, which Franz Liszt himself arranged for piano trio, seems downright solid. The trio offers the dance-like return with visible joy in playing, with fun in fast-paced, risky music-making. The audience applauds with their hands and feet, which encourages the trio to do a little encore. Another of the contemporary commissioned works, this time from the pen of Olli Mustonen – “Introduzione e Allegro alla polacca”, a clever piece that skilfully translates Papa Haydn's humor into the twenty-first century.

- bosco, March 2024

"Trio Gaspard return with a third selection from across Haydn’s output of piano trios. The C major and E minor works are both well known and widely performed but they are framed here by the very early Partita in E flat and a two-movement work in F whose misleadingly low Hoboken number belies its 1784 composition date.

This was one of a group of three trios published by Artaria in 1786 (in an edition so slapdash that Haydn remonstrated strongly in correspondence with the publishing house) and dedicated to Marianne, Princess Grassalkovics, a niece of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy. It’s a real charmer, and it’s puzzling why it isn’t better known. The opening Vivace froths and fizzes, enhanced by folkish ornaments from violinist Jonian Ilias Kadesha and pianist Nicholas Rimmer. And the vivid presence of cellist Vashti Mimosa Hunter is a rebuke to any who would continue to dismiss Haydn’s trios as piano sonatas with strings shackled to the keyboard player’s left and right hands. The slightly pompous minuet finale has more of a flow here than in the Beaux Arts Trio’s performance (Philips, 3/78), where it is stretched out into a stately sarabande.

Those who have followed this series so far will not be surprised by the high levels of virtuosity and performative imagination that are evident throughout. Richard Wigmore remarked upon these players’ ‘palpable delight in the unexpected’ (Vol 1, 9/22) and Richard Bratby drew attention to ‘a freshness, a warmth and a sense of humour that feels entirely on Haydn’s wavelength’ (Vol 2, 3/23). The same goes for this third volume, whether in the substantial works of Haydn’s compositional maturity or in the decorous galanterie of the Partita. Trio Gaspard close with a work written for them by Kit Armstrong (b1992); his jargon-infested programme note in the booklet is fairly impenetrable but Revêtements itself is a meaty miniature, refracting piano trio and folk music tropes through a modernist prism."

- Gramophone, April 2024 (Haydn Project Volume. 3 review)

"More Haydn magic arrives in the third volume of Trio Gaspard's series exploring the composer's substantial body of piano trios (45, including those lost or the partial work of other hands). Here we get four of them, one after the other - not necessarily the best way to savour Haydn's dancing subtleties, kaleidoscopic textures and sprightly wit, wonderfully conveyed by Trio Gaspard. It's still delightful listening. And you get a newly commissioned five-minute romp by Kit Armstrong as a 21st-century encore."

- The Times, May 2024 (Haydn Project Volume. 3 review)

"The internationally-staffed, German-English-Greek Trio Gaspard could almost be described as old hands on the piano trio scene. After all, they will be celebrating their 15th anniversary next year. Despite all the flawlessness of their playing together, they have nevertheless retained a spiritual freshness and agility that is regularly reflected in concert and studio programs that are compiled with great contrast. Currently, for example, the complete recording of all 46 piano trios by Joseph Haydn is taking shape. With each new episode, they also draw a link to the present day using commissioned compositions.
For Vol. 3, the American composer, pianist and chamber musician Kit Armstrong was invited. And since, like his two predecessors, he was not required to make any free or narrow reference to the recorded works with his piece, his five-minute-long “Revêtements” has a “mind” of its own. The Trio Gaspard shines brilliantly and with a pinch of Russian modernism à la Shostakovich, while also robustly playing out its jazz feeling. A great icing on the cake of an album that guarantees pure listening pleasure, concert-like springiness and melodic delights along four Haydn trios. And even in the earliest of the four works, No. 12 (before 1760), No. 19 (1784), No. 25 (1788/89) and No. 43 (1795), the Trio Gaspard discovers between the divertissement-like lines of music that witty refinement for which Haydn soon became famous."

- Rondo, May 2024 (Haydn Project Volume. 3 review)

Musikdorf Ernen - 6/24

"This happened at the beginning of the music summer. The Trio Gaspard set a new standard, because what music lovers were offered in the church of St. George went beyond the scope of usual listening habits.

It was Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) who laid the foundation for the piano trio formation – and he was extremely productive in this field. He left behind 46 compositions, all of which are now being recorded by the Trio Gaspard. These trios formed the common thread throughout the 7 parts of the program, but were skilfully complemented by a selection of romantic masterpieces and pieces from the 20th century. And the short, contemporary compositions that the trio commissioned were extremely refreshing – always in honor of Joseph Hayden. These included works by Kit Armstrong, Sally Beamish, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Olli Mustonen and Helena Winkelman.

The "Chamber Music Compact" series has now been running for over 10 years - an ingenious "invention" of the artistic director Francesco Walter. Every year the enthusiasm for the performances was huge. All the participants were great and engaging, playing at the highest level. But this year it felt as if the spiral had been turned up a notch.

People rubbed their eyes. What was going on?

It is this freshness, the carefree, relaxed demeanor of this award-winning trio, which has existed since 2010 and has won several awards, that manages to strike a balance between a kind of madness and original compositions. And we have the violinist Jonian Ilias Kadesha from Greece to thank for this unconventional approach, who is bursting with energy and sometimes jumps up from his chair when he needs more space to play. Every now and then he even tries to tame his wild, curly hair or take a look at his shirt (is everything still OK?). And when on Saturday, the day that a storm devastated Goms, a heavy rumble of thunder forced its way between two movements, he picked up his violin and briefly made musical contact with the troublemaker. But Kadesha was not alone. The British cellist Vashti Hunter, who draws warm, often fiery tones from the instrument, always alert to everything that is coming her way. Both play old Italian instruments from the mid-18th century. And the German pianist Nicholas Rimmer, who almost always sets the tone on the Bösendorfer, plays virtuosically, cleverly, and with focus - sometimes in a tuxedo jacket, sometimes with his shirt sleeves rolled back. And what also distinguishes the three of them is that you can feel their independence, which always results in exciting interaction. And what is also noticeable is that when the pianist's foot is not on the pedal, he moves his legs like his nimble hands - his fingers race over the keys like spider legs - and the violinist often takes the beat with his feet, without shoes, in black socks. Shoes are just too restrictive for such top performances.

It was an unforgettable concert experience that made our hearts beat faster with the participation of Jonathan Inniger, the future artistic director. We are already looking forward to the next edition of "Kammermusik kompakt"."

- Madeleine Hirsiger, Musikdorf Ernen

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