Atos Trio have chemistry – Wentworth Courier Review

Steve Moffat, 15 November 2010

It’s hard to pin down the chemistry between performers, but when you see it you recognise it immediately.

It might be the lack of it which strikes you – two actors unable to fire off each other so they come off as stilted and unconvincing.

But when it’s there the performance adds a subtle extra dimension to what is written in the script or score.

The rapidly-rising Atos Trio from Berlin have chemistry in trumps. This is in spite of each member being an established soloist in their own right.

Formed seven years ago, they came to prominence in 2007 when they swept the board in the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, winning the Musica Viva prize which led to this current Australian tour.

The trio – Thomas Hoppe, piano, Annette von Hehn, violin, and Stefan Heinemeyer, cello – have a casual and good-natured stage manner but when they get down to business it’s all about communication.

The music, of course, is paramount, whether it’s a recent work, like Paul Stanhope’s The Sweetest Nightingale – based around fragments of an exquisite Monteverdi madrigal – or much-loved pieces by Brahms and Schubert.

Their approach is intelligent and conservative, in the best sense of that word. They are not out to play these familiar works in a “new” way, but more in a “true” way.

The Brahms piano trio No.3 in C minor, perhaps his best chamber work and certainly his most compact, was ravishing. They took the outer movements with just the right amount of energy and pace, allowing the medium-fast presto to be a fitting counterweight to the slow movement, one of Brahms’s loveliest.

Schubert’s sunny B flat major trio was similarly beautifully realised, with Heinemeyer holding back slightly in his andante solo, giving it almost a teasing quality. The passage where von Hehn’s violin took up the tune above the cello’s descant was one of those “aah” moments.

This is one trio to watch out for. Remember the name.

They return to Angel Place on Monday, November 22, with a program of works by Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Stanhope, who has been Musica Viva’s featured composer this season.

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