Solarek Piano Trio concert – 9th March 2017

Concert review by Clive Davies

Mendelssohn was the centre-piece of this latest concert at the Outward Academy. Not Felix Mendelssohn, as in Fingal’s Cave and the much-loved Violin Concerto, but his older sister, Fanny. Her rarely heard Trio in D minor Op 11 was performed in lively and accomplished style by the Solarek Piano Trio, who were making a return visit to the Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire Concert Society.

The artists’ reading of this hectic and impassioned piece was persuasive, suggesting that Fanny’s reputation has for too long been obscured by the fame of her brother.An attractive feature of the Solarek recitals is that each of the soloists takes turns to introduce and discuss the piece they are about to play. On this occasion violinist Marina Solarek, pianist Diana Brekalo and cellist Miriam Lowbury took a charming detour to read aloud some of the loving letters that passed between Brahms and the Schumanns.

The effect was to bring the performers even closer to their audience and to create a warm and inclusive atmosphere. The relish and enthusiasm they brought to their playing radiated to all quarters of the hall. This was the last-but-one of this season of eight concerts staged by the Society at the Outwood Academy. Membership of the Society has been growing, a reflection of the excellence and variety of the music on offer.

The evening began with Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces Op 88, written in a time of sparkle and bright achievement, before he succumbed to mental illness. The second half of the concert was devoted to the Trio in C minor Op 101 by Brahms – hence the love letters that served as a bridge between the start and finish of the concert. This later work shows Brahms at his most assured – imperious even – but the Solarek Trio were more than equal to its demands.