Experienced trio launch winter series of concerts

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THE first of the 2012 Winter Series of Lunchtime Concerts at St George’s United Reformed Church featured the Aquillo Reed Trio.

Helen Clinton (oboe), Haralambos Michalas (clarinet) and Richard Ion (bassoon) are all senior students at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

It was Richard’s second appearance at the midday concerts, but for Haralambos and Helen it was their first. All three, however, are experienced musicians.

They began with two movements from an Oboe Trio by Beethoven, arranged for oboe, clarinet and bassoon by John Newhill, the Allegro and Menuetto.

It was obvious from the first few notes that these three young performers were highly accomplished musicians because this tricky composition was superbly presented. The complicated running passages were played with ease, with each instrument taking turns to play the melody in a performance where all three illustrated their highly developed technical skills.

There followed the very popular Pavane pour une Infante defunte by Ravel. In the beautiful haunting melody of this dance, the players showed fine tonal quality and control.

Three Schubert songs, arranged by Richard Ion, were followed by a suite by Alexandre Tansman, written specifically for the three performing instruments. This piece, in four short movements, reflected the more modern idiom of early 20th Century classical music with its background in traditional Polish folklore. The playing, particularly in the fast moving Sherzino and in the closely interwoven harmonies of the Dialogue and Aria, showed the great versatility of the young musicians.

An arrangement of the famous Flower Duet from Delibes’ opera Lakme followed. This was a joy to the ear as the beautiful lilting melody, played throughout by the oboe and backed up most sympathetically by the clarinet and bassoon, thrilled the audience.

The programme concluded with the third movement from a trio for oboe, clarinet and bassoon by the Brazilian composer Villa Lobos. As a finale, this piece was most fitting as it moves with great urgency with lots of accidentals in a typical modern idiom. There are echoes of Stravinsky in its character and style, but a most challenging composition, played with great skill and verve, brought the concert to an exciting and brilliant conclusion.

The large audience had been treated to a feast of music by a very talented group of young musicians.

The next concert is on Wednesday, February 8, and features musicians from King Edward VI School, including the Chamber Choir.