THE Pomegranate Piano Trio were guests of Kendal Midday Concert Club for the fifth in the current series of recitals, writes CLIVE WALKLEY. They presented two works: Mozart’s delightful Piano Trio in B flat K502 and Ravel’s masterly Piano Trio in A minor.

The three musicians gave their debut concert as a trio in 2014 and since then have established a reputation for fine performances in many important venues in the UK and elsewhere. Violinist, Fenella Barton, has performed with many well-known chamber groups; cellist, Rebecca Hepplewhite, performs throughout the UK and abroad as a soloist and chamber musician while pianist, Andrew West, has worked with leading singers and instrumentalists and, aside from his performing career, is a professor at the Royal Academy of Music.

Mozart’s K502 Trio opens with the piano dominating the proceedings, presenting a very short thematic idea which is soon passed over to violin and cello. When the strings take over the piano enters into dialogue with them and then takes off in rapid scale passages. At this point, although pianist Andrew West executed these brilliantly with great finger dexterity, the piano did seem to overwhelm the strings. This was certainly the impression up in the gallery, and again one wonders if a better balance could have been achieved by having the piano lid only half open. Mozart would certainly not have had an instrument as powerful as a modern grand piano when he conceived his work. Having said this, what stood out in the performance was the clarity and brilliance of the playing. The tempo has to be brisk if the two outer movements are not to sound stodgy, and stodgy they certainly were not.

Ravel’s Piano Trio was a perfect foil to Mozart’s B flat trio, stylistically very different of course, but a masterpiece of construction and so full of gorgeous harmonies, subtle instrumental colouring and imaginative textures. Andrew West gave a very informative introduction to the piece demonstrating some of the main thematic material on which it is based, a great help for anyone unfamiliar with the work.

The performance itself was magical. From the arresting, gentle opening one was drawn into Ravel’s sound world of delicate, gossamer-like string writing, powerful climaxes and exotic harmonies. A careful balance was preserved between the three instruments with all three performers in total command of their instruments and playing with great musical understanding. To hear a live performance of this fine work, played with such sensitivity, was a great treat.