Class act Trio Apache at Trinity
22 Jul 2016
Friends for years as solo performers, Trio Apaches, the Three Musketeers of music, made up their minds to get together in 2012 and now it’s one for all and all for one as a stunning group in demand the world over.
Last week, they dazzled a captivated Cambridge audience with a wonderful range of music including an almost forgotten Shostakovich masterpiece played with the inventive percussion and timpani ensemble O Duo.
Handsome, stylish and on top of their form, Trio Apaches are intent on exploring new music and reviving such neglected pieces.
Matthew Trusler on violin is a study in performing panache. A veteran of more orchestras than you can shake a stick at and stellar single performer, he has come to earth in this extraordinary collaboration with pianist Ashley Wass, winner of the London Piano Competition and BBC young New Generation artist, and Thomas Carroll, an inventive Welsh cellist who has featured alongside Cambridge’s Endellion String Quartet and Yehudi Menhuin himself.
Trio Apaches are class acts for any stage anywhere, so it was almost a surprise to see them in the quiet small scale grandeur of Trinity College Chapel Thursday 21 July, playing to a select audience on a warm summer night.
And what a programme. They began with the fabulous, legendary William Tell Overture by Rossini. Fans of the Lone Ranger from yesteryear’s TV find it hard not see Hi Ho Silver - the Ranger’s legendary horse -- rearing on the rugged ridge ready for another unlikely adventure -- when those famous bars begin their cantering momentum, but the piece is no less spectacular for that. An instant hit at its début, wildly popular ever since, it seems to have overwhelmed its composer as he never wrote another opera in the next 40 years of his life. The Trio Apaches came at it ‘con brio’ as the score demands – and it created a bright beginning for a memorable evening.
After a lyrical slice of Wagner‘s Tristan und Isolde and the truly beautiful Trio Pathetique by the ever melancholy Glinka, the second half was quite a step change: An almost forgotten masterpiece, Symphony no.15 by Shostakovich seems a long way from the peaceful dawn of the Alps and William Tell’s fight for freedom. But the famous chords from Rossini were among the first the great composer remembers and they appear in the first movement as a tribute to the joy of his childhood.
At a low point in his difficult life hemmed in by the strictures of Stalin, traumatised by the horrors of the Russian defence of its cities against the Nazi onslaught, Shostakovich worried he was played out as a composer. In fact Rossini’s fate -- success and then a drought for 40 years -- haunted him. Devastated at the death of his wife, politically isolated in the austere Soviet secret state created by Stalin’s terror, he feared he would never write again. Symphony number 15 scotched that gnawing anxiety for, from its beginning, he traces his own life, echoing the funeral of Wagner’s Siegfried with its funereal drumbeat of the dead hero.
Joined at this point by the fascinating skills of O Duo -- astonishing timpanists and percussionists Jonny Roper and Owen and Tim Gunnell, winners of prizes galore for their interpretations -- it was intriguing to see the ingenuity behind some of the sounds Shostakovich demanded for his piece. Blocks of wood clashed together, a triangle (yes it is an orchestral instrument and not just one designed to send parents of eight year olds round the bend) played with amazing precision, some notes calculated by almost magic to blend with the piano.
The evening was another triumph for the increasingly inventive and hugely entertaining Summer Festival – if you haven’t been to a concert yet, you still have a few days to put that right. It’s not just about the music that is sensational world class and thrilling; what better way to spend an hour and a half of a summer evening than among some of the world’s most accomplished musicians and then to sally forth -- with a new perspective -- into the still light quadrangles or courts of some of the best architecture Cambridge has to offer?