24th July 7.30pm, The Mithras Trio
Robert Schumann, Piano Trio No. 2 in F Major, Op. 80
Lili Boulanger, D'un matin de printemps
Franz Schubert, Piano Trio No. 2 in Eb, D. 929
Winners of the 10th Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition, 67th Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, Royal Philharmonic Society Henderson Award 2019, Cavatina Intercollegiate Chamber Music Competition 2019 and the St. James Chamber Music Competition 2018, the Mithras Trio came together in 2017 at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
As well as benefiting from regular tuition with Matthew Jones, Carole Presland and Ursula Smith, they have also received coaching from András Keller, Rolf Hind, David Dolan and the Endellion String Quartet, and were selected to perform in masterclasses with Ralf Gothóni, Levon Chilingirian, the Takács, Danish and Emerson Quartets, and Alasdair Tait.They have undertaken residencies in Snape Maltings, Suffolk, and at the Schulich School of Music, Montréal, performing to professors including Isabel Charisius, Byørg Lewis, Kyoko Hashimoto and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
They have performed at many of London’s major venues, including Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Milton Court Concert Hall, as well as giving concerts at the Lake District Summer Music Festival, Guildhall Chamber Music Festival, Highgate International Chamber Music Festival, Leeds International Concert Season, Brighton Coffee Concert Series and Yewfield Concert Series. They were selected as Kirckman Concert Society Young Artists for the 2019/2020 season, and are on the Countess of Munster Trust Recital Scheme.
Meet the Trio
How did you start playing together?
We met at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and started playing together in our first week.
How do the three of you & your personalities fit together as an ensemble and come out in your playing?
The great thing about the trio combination is that it allows our musical personalities to shine through without compromising the ensemble. We all have our diva moments, even the cellist!
Why the name ‘Mithras Trio’?
We get asked this a lot! The short answer is, we like the sound of it! Mithraism was a popular religion during the Roman Empire, featuring plenty of bold and striking iconography - the God Mithras slaying a bull etc. In Sanskrit the word Mitra also means ‘friend’ or ‘friendship’ - appropriate for a chamber ensemble!
What has been your favourite musical experience as a trio?
Performing at the Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition in 2019 has been a highlight for us. The intensive preparation of a wide variety of repertoire, coupled with the beautiful hall and sense of occasion made it a wonderful experience.
What are rehearsals like for the trio? You’ve worked with some amazing tutors, for example the Emerson Quartet, Takács Quartet, and Levon Chilingirian: what’s been your favourite coaching session & why?
We always argue a lot, and love to really get underneath the skin of the piece. We’ve also been lucky to worth with a great variety of incredible coaches. It’s too hard to pick a favourite - all our coaches bring something different, and equally valuable!
How have you found the last year, largely devoid of concerts?
The loss of audiences and concerts has been a real blow, but we’ve continued rehearsing, learning new repertoire and giving live-streamed concerts where possible. In some ways it’s been a blessing, as we’ve learnt to use our rehearsal time more efficiently - but we are certainly delighted that we can have an audience again!
Tell us a bit about the programme you’ll be performing at the Festival. Why are you playing these works?
These are three of our favourite pieces - Schumann’s second trio in F major is less often performed than the first, but just as remarkable, full of humanity and vitality. Lili Boulanger was the younger sister of Nadia (who taught many of the great 20th-century composers at the Paris conservatoire), and died tragically young. The small volume of works she left behind are of remarkable quality, not least of which this work, ‘D’un Matin de Printemps’. One of the last pieces she completed, its rich harmonic palette, melodic invention and wealth of orchestral colours and textures are a delight to perform. We’re finishing the programme with Schubert’s monumental Trio no.2 in Eb. Certainly one of (if not the) pinnacles of our repertoire, it takes listener and performer on a journey of discovery. It’s one of those rare works that can reveal new inspiration and ideas with every listening.
Schubert’s second trio is one of the great works in the piano trio repertoire. What’s it like taking on a piece like this that is so well-known, and has such masterful performances out there?
The wealth of recordings is normally a bonus, as we can use them for inspiration during the learning process! It certainly comes with a great sense of responsibility, but never in a deferential or academic way - for us the most successful performances (and indeed recordings) are the ones which feel fresh, joyful and genuine.
If our audience wanted to listen to some other music related to your programme, what would you recommend?
To get more of a flavour of Schumann’s Schizophrenic sound world, we’d recommend listening to Carnaval Op. 9 or the Fantasie Op. 17. In both works his piano writing is extraordinary. For Schubert, his String Quintet in C is his other late chamber music masterpiece - the recording by the Amadeus Quartet and William Pleeth is a classic.
As a more light-hearted way to get to know you, if the trio were an ice cream flavour, what would it be & why?
Salted caramel and pistachio. Well-balanced, plenty of umami alongside the salt and the sweet. With an espresso shot over the top for an extra bit of zing.