Peabody Trio at St John's

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Peabody Trio at St John's

The dramatic enactment of Beethoven's music as a type of reminiscence, flavoured by Goethe's exotic poetry, lent a fresh angle to familiar works in the music-theatrical presentation Ludwigs Ghosts.

Perhaps taking their cue from recent staged performances of song cycles, Bach cantatas and various instrumental works, The Peabody Trio of Baltimore teamed up at St John's Smith Square on 1 June, in aid of the Emanuel Hurwitz Chamber Music Trust, with Olivier-Award-nominated actress Elisabeth Mansfield to devise a challenging concert format interweaving some of Goethe's most exotic, spiritual and sensuous poetry from the Divan of West and East, with two of Beethoven's most atmospheric chamber works, the GhostTrio and its companion E flat major Trio, Opus 70 No 2.

The concert began with Elisabeth Mansfield, her loose grey costume suggesting both Goethe and Beethoven, lighting a large church candle surrounded by small stones, symbolic perhaps of the flickering flame of artistic inspiration as much as the spirit of the two 19th-Century geniuses. Similar theatricality permeated the Trio's performance, the resilient-toned violinist Violaine Melancon encircling the piano and cello in dialogue with the actress, their fragmented interpretation of somewhat disembodied, if brilliant, gestures forming premonitions of each movement, through which Mansfield's sonorous recitation emerged, first in German then drifting into John Whaley's flowing English translation from Goethe's Books of the Singer, of Love, and of Hafiz. …