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Harmony and discord – The Metamorphoses Trio delivered a concert for these times

Peak Music’s fifth concert of this season featured the Metamorphoses Trio, a truly international grouping of British-American clarinettist, Jean Johnson, Dutch viola player, Roeland Jagers and Russian pianist, Ilona Timchenko. Whilst their musicianship was without doubt excellent, the programme choices perhaps, like themselves, painted a picture of these challenging times with its blend of harmonious and discordant pieces.

Mozart thought the combination of viola and clarinet as unusual but blended well together and his ‘KegelStatt’ trio in Eb major – Mozart considered Eb major the key of friendship – was certainly the most pleasant-sounding piece of the evening with its demanding piano accompaniment contrasting well with the viola-clarinet arrangements.

In contrast the trio played a new piece, Metamorph, by Dutch composer Theo Loevinde that they discovered in March 2020 at the outset of the first of the COVID-19 lockdowns. The work included some very piercing viola and clarinet note combinations which made it, at times, an uncomfortable listening experience and perhaps not to all tastes. However it should be recognised that the trio overcame significant challenges just to stage this new piece given the timing of the pandemic; their preparations whilst based remotely in three different countries can be seen on YouTube here.

Metamorphoses are certainly a living embodiment of the universality of chamber music where differences in approach can be overcome to showcase amazing talent combinations and the trio were very well received by the demanding Peak Music audience. One of Peak Music’s stated aims is ‘to promote high-class concerts in order to foster the public knowledge and appreciation of music by means of public performances’. This concert delivered on multiple fronts.

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