Review: Tchaikovsky & Stravinsky, CBSO & Trio Isimsiz, Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings, 18 June

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla performing at the Aldebu

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla performing at the Aldeburgh Festival. Photo: Aldeburgh Festival - Credit: Archant

A piano trio and a large scale orchestral work might have seemed an unlikely pairing for a Sunday afternoon concert. Yet it worked – brilliantly.

Tchaikovsky’s only piano trio is a remarkable work, a two movement piece lasting some 45 minutes. If the medium is modest, the scale and invention is anything but and there are echoes of the symphonies and ballets together with concerto-like demands on the performers. The young and polished members of the Trio Isimsiz took everything in their stride and gave a most engaging and perceptive account of this fascinating composition. There was freshness and vitality everywhere and not for a moment did the piece outstay its welcome. The crescendos and climaxes were perfectly controlled as were the individual and collective tempi and it was a performance to gladden both ear and heart.

The stage filled for the second half with the large orchestra required for Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka. The diminutive but hugely impressive Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla raised her baton and launched the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra into the bustling atmosphere of the Shrovetide Fair. The character and precision of the playing from all sections of the orchestra was outstanding and the clarity and balance of the sound enabled every detail, particularly the woodwind, to be heard and savoured. The Russian Dance had irresistible momentum punctuated by stentorian outbursts from percussion and brass. There were many more moments of individual colour and brilliance before the conductor drew all the threads together for the final dance, the tension mounting inexorably and the difficult final bars crisply delivered.

Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla is clearly an exceptional talent and the orchestra’s enthusiasm for playing under her expansive and decisive beat was evident to all. It was a splendid concert of two contrasting but equally thrilling halves.

Gareth Jones