A great musical partnership

Three piece suite and Julia Brimo     

The partnership of the String trio known as “Three Piece Suite” and pianist Julia Brimo proved to be highly successful in the concert for the South Coast Music Society held at St Bernard’s Church Batehaven on Sunday 12th April at 3.00pm.

Mozart’s well known Piano quartet in G minor started the programme on a familiar note. This piece came over primarily as a Piano and Violin sonata with the viola and cello providing a bass and harmonic background for much of the time and this was clearly played in keeping with the way Mozart composed it. Throughout the quartet there was an excellent sense of ensemble playing.   The dramatic first movement was well offset by the lyrical adagio and there was careful attention to dynamic levels and articulation in all three movements.

Rachel Westwood (violin), Valmai Coggins (viola) and Deborah Coogan (cello) presented the Lennox Berkeley String Trio Opus 19 in sharp contrast to the preceding Mozart Quartet. This was less easy for the audience to assimilate – being fairly avant garde by nature but retaining a sense of classical structure. There was more opportunity for dialogue between the instruments and each had attractive solos which were taken up by the group as a whole. The muted start of the adagio created a sense of peace and the cello played a haunting theme into which the viola and violin blended. The final movement started with a crisply articulated theme by the cello which set the tone for the movement. The meno mosso section was a pleasant contrast in articulation and dynamics.


After the interval the Gordon Jacob 6 Shakespearean Sketches for string trio was a delightful set of vignettes each of which related to a quote or stage direction by Shakespeare. Because of the careful juxtaposing of the sketches it was possible not only to enjoy each individual piece but to see the whole set as an entity in itself. The harmonics in “how Sweet” were beautifully performed and at a guess the musicians seemed to interpret “Foot it Featly” as “foot it lightly” in the second sketch. This was followed by a largely homophonic “Sad Cypress”, a pastoral style “Grace in all Simplicity” and a whimsically played “And a’Babbled of Green Fields”. The finale “Here a Dance of Clowns” was a bright and fun ending to the set of pieces – all of which were played with consummate artistry by the trio.


The Piano quartet No 1 in C minor Op.15 by Fauré was a stunning finale for the concert and it was the ideal vehicle to display the talent of the group as a whole and as individuals. The warmth of the string tone in the first movement provided a welcome change in texture and colour from the relative sparseness of the Berkeley and Jacob works. Julia Brimo excelled on the piano and throughout the work the ensemble was well balanced and exciting for the audience. The Adagio movement was contemplative and played with clarity and conviction. The Allegro Molto movement was breathtaking in its brilliance and left the audience with a lasting memory of a wonderful evening of music making.

An Australian encore – Grainger’s Handel in the Strand was a great choice as a coda for the evening. It is to be hoped that this group will visit Batehaven again in the not too distant future.

 Elisabeth Andrews