Thursday, 17 April 2014

London Piano Trio - Robert Caesar Atchison

Robert Atchison - violin
It is the third time I have sketched the London Piano Trio at St John's Smith Square, but my first opportunity (05/04/2014) to put words on paper. This is because I have spent the past 18 months happily serving my apprenticeship under the nurturing eye of critic Mr Rich Rainlore.

The venue is one of the most dramatic for a lowly artist like myself, who is more used to the low ceilinged burrows of the jazz world. The huge pillars that adorn the back of the stage dwarf the performers, and the long drape of the plush red curtains rain down behind the musicians, I always expect James Mason to stride in and herald the fall of the Roman Empire.

Our Caesar for the night is the London Piano Trio's violinist and leader Robert Atchison. A man with an infinite desire it seems to serve us a silver platter of violin/piano/cello themed nights, and I greedily gobble them up as he dangles his grapes into my mouth. Alongside Olga Dudnik and David Jones it was Atchison's turn to conquer the Czech musical culture with a foray of Suk, flanked by Smetana and a breaching finale of Dvorak.


Olga Dudnik (Piano) and the page-turner 
Within seconds of Suk's Trio in C Minor glistening diamonds of sweat dotted Robert Atchison's brow but it his stance that always catches my attention. Just like Caesar, Atchison sits in a confident and heroic pose upon the stage, or maybe even a tribal chieftain with his legs akimbo in an open display of fertility. The Andante was playful in his hands, like a childhood game that had been filmed on a cine camera by a enthusiastic uncle and slowed down to half-speed upon projection. The Vivace was a game of speed chess between 2 older gentlemen, their wooden pieced battle striking them alive. It ebbed from aggression to camaraderie. The piano gave us a lightness while Atchison's violin signalled the endgame, all 3 instruments dramatically  came together for the inevitable checkmate.

Smetana's Trio in G Minor saw my pen linger over the stoic beauty of Olga Dudnik, her deeply lashed eyes and rich red flash over the shoulder gave her the untouchable air of an empress. There was power here too and during the Moderato Assai you could feel the pathos, see the tremble in her chiffon petticoat as her head whipped back and she struck. Although the whole piece was poetic, even tragic in its themes there were several moment of frustration or comedy that caught my eye. Despite there being 3 performers on stage there is also the page-turner who must do his job too. Apologies for my ignorance in not knowing his name, I have seen his exemplary performance many times and never seen him falter, this was not one of those nights. Once or twice he missed the subtle nod of Olga Dudnik's head and I saw two pages get stuck together in a mad scramble of hands and blushes.


David Jones - Cello
In comparison not a bead of sweat or coloured cheek blemished David Jones' demeanour. Apart from the sweet music from his cello the only indicator of expression comes from his left eyebrow which wrinkles like the contours of the Lusatian Mountains. The Andante - Vivace non troppo during Dvorak's Trio in E Minor gave us a quick energetic Jones who cascaded into the laps of the audience beside me while Dudnik's piano danced around us. This was matched by the verve of Atchison in the final Lento maestoso - Vivace and supported by the rich folding waves of the cello once again.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Robert Atchison is already teasing us with another classical offering, this time a trip to the cinema. Join us as we celebrate three composers who successfully wrote music for both the concert hall and the screen. Starting with Sakamoto’s music to the movie ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’, then an exciting new commission by Christopher Gunning (most famous for writing the music for the hit series ‘Poirot’) and finally Korngold’s score to ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood'.

I can never remember whether the Roman emperor's appreciation was shown by a thumbs up or down in the Colosseum so I played safe and clapped as hard as I could.

AL.

The Stars of the Silver Screen by the London Piano Trio
5th July 2014 at St John's Smith Square
http://www.sjss.org.uk/events/london-piano-trio-0





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