Friday 20 April 2018 HEYWOOD CIVIC CENTRE
THE LOUKO PIANO TRIO
We have come to expect that, when students from the Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music display their talents on the concert platform, we shall enjoy a feast of technical excellence. Never can there have been a generation of performing musicians with such intensive preparation for the public arena as ours, and the RNCM is a world leading contender for producing the goods. So much so that the three young musicians who make up the Louko Piano Trio have journeyed from Finland and South Korea to learn their trade at the hands of some of the world’s greatest exponents and teachers who are listed among its staff.
I make this point, because it is not always the case that we experience both the technical accomplishment and the maturity of artistic interpretation that were brought to the musical expression in this concert by these players. They have been making music together in this way only since 2015, when they met at the RNCM: Errki Louko (violin), Waynne Woo Seok Kwon (cello) and Victor Lim (piano). Each showed mastery of his instrument and depth of understanding of the composers’ intentions.
They played Trios by Beethoven, Fauré and Dvorák, which between them cover over a century of compositional developments in a Western Europe with the considerable expansion in melody and harmony that took place in the so-called ‘Romantic’ era. All quite different from the native musical traditions of Korea (and even Finland). Yet these musicians seemed to be fully at ease within the structures and sounds of music that is essentially concerned with stolid formality and Teutonic resonance - Beethoven and Dvorák - or sensual Gallic elasticity - Fauré.
They began with Beethoven’s Trio Op. 70 No. 1 in D major. This has been dubbed the “Ghost” because of the eeriness of its strangely scored slow movement. But there is passion and hilarity in abundance in the other movements, and all three features were splendidly observed and expressed as the music progressed towards its joyous conclusion.
Then came the Fauré, a work of the composer’s later years, when he had already become deaf. Deafness for Fauré, as it had been for Beethoven, provided the opportunity for exploring the treasure trove that lay at the heart of his musical being. The resulting music is a superb distillation of the very essence of his artistry - simple yet subtle, ear-catching yet profound. Like the finest of French wines brought to the table just at the right time for enjoying it at its best, the Trio poured this out with the finesse of a Master Musical sommelier.
Dvorák’s Trio filled the second half of the concert. This substantial work presents the performers with many a technical and interpretive challenge born out of the significant artistic development that had been taking place in the composer’s life as he was writing it. Not least as a result of having formed a friendship with Brahms, and still grieving over the death of his mother. From the ominous, passionate opening of the first movement to the dramatic twist of the finale there are many pitfalls that might ruin a satisfying performance. But violinist, cellist and pianist alike avoided these with ease and succeeded in conveying the music’s colourful and exciting messages so as to earn the audience’s Gold Star applause.