Nikau Trio celebrates Spring with enchanting, vivacious music

Haydn: Trio no.1, Hob. XV:17, for flute, cello and piano
Enescu: Cantabile and Presto, for flute and piano
Martinů: Trio for flute, cello and piano

Nikau Trio (Karen Batten, flute; Rachel Thomson, piano; Margaret Guldborg, cello)

St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Wednesday, 3 September 2014, 12.15pm

The opening trio fitted the mood of the day, and enhanced it.  Haydn’s good humour was just right for another windless, sunny day (following over a week of such delightful spring weather), and it was harmoniously reflected in what we heard from these three fine musicians.  They played this joyous music with alacrity and commitment.  The flute particularly, evokes spring and the bursting of new life.  The work was charmingly and sensitively played.

Romanian composer George Enescu (1881-1955) (misspelt as Enesco on the printed programme) wrote his work in Paris, in 1904, we were told by Karen Batten.  The Cantabile had quite a sultry feel; it began low in the flute’s range.  It was a graceful movement, with beautiful passages for both instruments.  When the presto commenced, immediately the playing was more dynamic and forceful, yet still graceful.  It proved to be a delightful work.

Rachel Thomson talked about the fun and good humour in the work by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů – i.e. in similar vein to Haydn’s.  Gaiety bounded from the first notes.  Each part seemed independent, yet in their coming together they made up to more than the sum of their parts.  The first movement had lots of that – running movement.

The tranquil adagio was the opposite – great stillness to begin, but gradually working up to a fierce climax, before subsiding to a gentler mood.  It was full of piquant harmonies and juxtapositions of the diverse timbres of the three instruments.

The third movement opened with only the slow flute, followed by a sprightly, bouncy allegretto with jaunty themes.  A grand theme at one point failed to quell the high spirits.  Then a wistful, slower section had Margaret Guldborg’s cello sounding solemn, even plaintive, with the mute in use.  Exuberance returned, and the music dashed away to a spirited conclusion with many notes, especially for the pianist, whose complex part seemed at times to prefigure minimalism in its repetitions.

This was a wonderful programme of music that was unfamiliar to me, played by a trio exhibiting great elan, musicianship, technique and enjoyment. Bravo!