SASRA REVIEW: The Thorne Trio wows Egremont Market Hall

By Jane Holland

HAVING dropped their children off at school on the morning of Friday 29th January 2016, “the train took the strain” for The Thorne Trio as they headed towards Cumbria for their long anticipated evening concert in Egremont Market Hall for SASRA Music and Arts (booked two years ago).

Having met whilst studying at the Royal College of Music, Ilid Jones (oboe), Esther Sheridan (clarinet) and Alexandra Callanan (bassoon) combined forces during 1999 to promote the sound of small wind-ensembles alongside their other orchestral engagements.

Over forty people had braved the forecast weather of strong winds and showers to wait expectantly as the performers took their seats and launched straight into their first piece, The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.

Originally composed by G. F. Handel, we heard an arrangement especially for this group by Alexandra. We were told hearing a well-known composition assisted audiences to become more used to the sound of a rare combination of instruments being played.

The arrangement worked well and was a rousing start to their programme based on A Journey through Musical Time.

Wind instruments were infrequently heard during the Baroque period, but the next piece, Trio Sonata No 1 by Arcangelo Corelli, originally written for two solo melodic instruments with a basso continuo sounded at home in the wind sound-world.

Different combinations of the instruments, in conjunction with their unique sounds added to the musical interest.
Working as a group, usually taking the lead off Ilid, rather than three individuals contributed to its successful execution.

Showcasing the individual instruments was also important to these performers, so next we were treated to a solo by Alexandra.

Solo bassoon players have access to an extremely small repertoire, so we heard a piece originally written by J.S. Bach, Cello Suite III.

This was a good choice as the instruments have comparable pitch ranges.

Precise breathing through phrases was integral to the pleasing result.

In the week containing the 260th birthday of W. A. Mozart, it was fitting a typical composition was offered for the Classical era.

Although composed for basset-horns, Divertimento No 2 K229 sounded perfect on their modern-day woodwind relations.

The first half was energetically rounded off with one of the Trio’s favourite pieces, Triolet in Eb by Richard Henry Walthew (1872-1951).

This signalled both movement to the Romantic musical style and also geographically to England.

The composer, unknown to a large proportion of the audience, was a Music Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and at Queens College, Harley Street, London.

After a time to catch our breaths, Edward Elgar’s popular Chanson de Matin recommenced our journey.

With the oboe carrying the tune, this arrangement was effectively interpreted by the Trio.

However, there was no time to wallow as Three Pieces for solo Clarinet by Igor Stravinsky followed as an exhibition for the clarinet.

The three pieces as presented to us certainly showed the reflective attributes of the instrument as well as its more jazzy side and as we were led to expect by Esther, the note that we were expecting wasn’t necessarily the one prescribed by the composition.

Into the Neo-Classical period and a Jean Français Divertimento gave Ilid an opportunity to confirm the audience’s suspicions by informing us that playing wind instruments is physically exhausting, especially in small groups, as to keep the music moving they are often required to play more.

Somehow she then found energy to demonstrate the qualities of the oboe, especially its ability to imitate human voices through a couple of movements from Benjamin Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid.

Fortunately the Market Hall was draught-free, so Ilid didn’t encounter Joy Boughton’s problem at the original première on a boat at The Aldeburgh Festival when the music score blew away!

To complete our musical journey, the Trio performed Century Dances, specially commissioned by them in 2005 from contemporary British composer Cecilia McDowall.

A collection of five dances, they acted as a fitting conclusion to the concert: a whirlwind trip through dance styles since the eighteen century, encapsulating the strengths of the three wind instruments and exhibiting the excellent performance skills of The Thorne Trio.

Friday 4th March is the date for the next adventure: this time into the world of string music with The Rivoli Quartet.