Evening of enlightened contemporary music

Saturday evening brought the first performance of Douglas Weiland's Second Piano trio played by the Altenberg Trio from Vienna in a Norfolk & Norwich Chamber Music concert at the John Innes Centre, Norwich.

It was an evening of enlightenment - from Norwich & Norfolk Chamber Music (check their web site for details of two exciting concerts with Tamas Vasary in September) who appointed Weiland composer in residence in 2002, and who have commissioned him to compose a piece of chamber music in each of the season's betwen 2004/5 and 2006/7. The first of these is the Piano Trio especially coposed for the Altenberg Trio of Vienna, to be followed by a Cello Suite, a Clarinet Quintet (with Andrew Marriner as soloist), and a String Quartet. Weiland's Piano Quartet, which was also written for the Norfolk & Norwich Music Club was premiered in Norwich in May 2000, and has since been played in Vienna and Australia.

Douglas Weiland is an enlightened musician. He was born in Malvern (home to Edward Elgar) in 1954, and after studying violin became a member of the acclaimed Australian Quartet. In 1990 he returned to England as a member of Sir Neville Marriner's Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields chamber orchestra. He now composes full time, and his commissions include a Divertimento for Strings for the Academy, and a Clarinet Concerto for Andrew Marriner. His current work in progress is a Triple Concerto.

Enlightenment also radiates from the Altenberg Trio who made their debut at the 1994 Salzburg Mozart week. As well as the classical repertoire this wide ranging trio have recorded Ives, Copland and Bernstein. It is wonderful to see this Trio playing, and thoroughly enjoying, a contemporary composition commissioned for them. It was also wonderful to hear pianist Claus-Christian Schuster joking in his encore intrduction about the wedding of Prince Charles (which finally took place on the day of the concert), and about home team Norwich City's surprise defeat of Manchester United which occured minutes before the concert began. With the Altenberg Trio (and as with the Kamus Quartet) chamber music is not dull or stuffy.

Altenberg Trio of Vienna - chamber music can be fun. (Sorry there is no photo of Douglas Weiland, but there doesn't seem to be one available).

Douglas Weiland's Second Piano Trio is sub-titled Pavey Ark after the well known landmark in the Langdale area of the Lake District, seen in my header photo. The trio is an accessible, work in three sections - Moderato - Allegro, Poco Allegro - Allegro, and finally a haunting Poco Adagio, molto espressivo as an epilogue. Weiland's idiom successfully combines modernity with intensely lyrial passages to create a work that seems set to expand the Piano Trio repertoire.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this premiere; to the Norwich & Norfolk Chamber Music club for their enlightened patronage, to the Altenberg Trio for their commitment, and to Douglas Weiland for creating such a wonderful work.


ruth said…
thanks for your email. nice to see a pic of claus shristian schuster with whom i studied and played chamber music in the deal festival many years ago when i had blue hair! i remember his sense of humour well!
Anonymous said…
Christian is certainly an inspired chamber musician and the Altenberg gave two outstanding performances of the Schubert's B flat Trio. They were obviously impressed with the new Douglas Weiland Trio and hope to perform it in Vienna and elsewhere in due course and hopefully a record it.
Whilst he was in Norwich we were talking about the 2006 Shostakovich centenary and he was impressed to hear that the Borodins are coming to Norwich again next year to perform a complete cycle of the quartets(March 3rd-11th). He tells me that he was in Moscow when Shostakovich died and attended the funeral - part of which took place in the Great Hall of the Conservatoire where the Borodin Quartet before the coffin - later at the cemetary he found himself walking between Aram Khatachurian and Maxim Shostakovich. Roger Rowe

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