Atos Trio reviewed in the Adelaide Advertiser

Stephen Whittington, 6 November 2010

There are many excellent chamber groups about these days and Australia is home to several fine piano trios, including the Benaud Trio and TriOz. Occasionally though, a group appears that really stands out from the crowd, even takes your breath away. The Atos Trio from Berlin is such an ensemble.

They seem to have everything – polish, refinement, energy, passion, technical brilliance and a perfect rapport. This was particularly apparent in a marvellous performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s Trio in C minor. The piano part alone has more notes
than you can point a (piano-lid) stick at. Pianist Thomas Hoppe was all over them with the utmost ease and delicacy, perfectly balancing his sound with those of his fellow performers. Annette von Hehn (violin) and Stefan Heinemeyer (cello) had far fewer notes to defend themselves with, but were never overwhelmed by piano. The fleet-fingered scherzo was a dizzying delight to the ears.

The group as a whole shows admirable restraint, showing a classical poise even in the Romantic repertoire. The opening of Rachmaninov’s youthful Trio was magical, and its conclusion no less so. In between. there was drama and passion, but without the gratuitous wallowing in sentimentality bordering on pathos that often deforms performances of his music. The impetuous vitality of Schumann’s Trio in F major was captivating. Again the Atos Trio struck a perfect balance between the demands of expression emanating from Schumann’s mercurial temperament and the classical poise that keeps things in perspective.

Paul Stanhope’s piano trio Sweetest Nightingale, containing references to Monteverdi, is a demanding work. Far from being the mellifluous birdsong you might expect, it is a quite violent and dramatic piece. This performance bore the marks of conviction and assurance; it’s difficult to imagine a better interpretation of the composer’s wishes.

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