This was the '30th Anniversary + 3' Coffee Concert on a warm Holywell St on Sunday morning - the first day of summer, with the nascent flower buds visible on the rowan tree beyond the front door, and a Fremontodendron climber waving its buttercup flowers outside one of the high windows. The programme featured two of the greatest masters of the chamber music form, Mozart and Schubert. Fitting that a full house was poised to hear our trio of players which included two rising stars, pianist Petr Limonov, originally of Moscow, and violinist Martyn Jackson, with 18 year old Laura van der Heijden joining this rather elite company.
First, Mozart's Piano Trio in E flat. This calls primarily for sustained interplay between pianist and violinist, with the cello in a subsidiary role. Mr Limonov gave notice, especially in the 'Larghetto' of his way with a slow movement - unadorned but quietly intense. He and Mr Jackson, a natty figure in frilled shirt and patent leather shoes, illustrated perfectly Mozart's way of unexpectedly ratcheting up the emotional temperature by a sudden turning into a minor key, followed by a quick resumption of the sunny melody; as if to demonstrate casual mastery of musical charting of human changeability.
Next, Schubert's Piano Trio in E flat. It's always astonishing to recall that this was one of the works chosen by the composer to fill the one and only public concert of his own music; such was the extent of Schubert's public profile in his lifetime. The cello here comes into its own as a full partner, and Ms van der Heijden struck out boldly with her colleagues as they explored the endless invention of melody and pace of which Schubert is a nonpareil. Then the famous 'Andante con moto', famous as Kubrick's chosen soundtrack music for Barry Lyndon, and also for the 2001 British film The Lawless Heart. I think the burden of excellence lies ever more heavily on the players of a piece so well known; certainly the merest false note is going to be filed away by the listener. The metronomic tempo and hypnotic basic tune have to be just right as the soloists thread their way through this eye of a musical needle. Mr Limonov's trills with right hand were like quicksilver; then he attacked the keyboard flamboyantly while Mr Jackson's playing at the bottom of the range throbbed with the raw passion of the movement's climax, a passion that seems unsure whether its final destination is transcendentalism or tragedy.
The final notes of the 'Allegro' were greeted by wild applause, indicating the place this piece holds in the concertgoer's heart when played with such intensity. These year-round Coffee Concerts are always a joy, and the pleasure is enhanced by the long-serving team Chris Windass has gathered around him. The ebullient, welcoming Andy Blakeman at the ticket desk, and the three genial ushers, Luigi and Di Thompson and Phyllida Chappell. They create an atmosphere of anticipatory contentment before the first note's even played. Maybe that's why the Fremontodendron's looking in at the window?