There’s nothing like the rush of young blood to start a new year with high hopes. The Park Lane Group offers its annual Young Artists showcase all this week, but the Kirckman Concert Society, another cradle of the gifted, nipped them in the bud last Saturday with this scorching programme from the Busch Ensemble, a piano trio bursting with far more than promise.
Named after the great violinist Adolf Busch, they currently study at Brussels’ Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel. All are within their twenties: the youngest recruit, cellist Ori Epstein, is a mere 22. But the group already play as though musically joined at the hip – something to be expected with Epstein and his older brother Omri, the group’s marvellously sensitive pianist. Even during the modest curtain raiser, Schubert’s Sonatensatz of 1812, I quickly lost count of his nimble and subtle variations in touch, though the range only grew wider with the extra firepower summoned for Tchaikovsky’s epic Piano Trio in memory of Nikolai Rubinstein, or Beethoven’s D major trio, the Ghost.
Ori Epstein’s cello also quickly made friends. You felt in the grip of a warm hug, something especially welcome during the elegies and consolations of Tchaikovsky’s masterly work. Mathieu van Bellen, currently in possession of one of Busch’s own violins, a 1783 Guadagnini, took a fraction longer to settle in. But his silvery gleam darted eloquently in the Beethoven, while the dark velveteen of the instrument’s lowest register perfectly suited Tchaikovsky’s sorrows.
Beyond the players’ individual gifts, what impressed most was the group’s effortless musicianship and unity of thought and attack. The threesome even seemed to be breathing in synch: a quality especially beneficial in the Tchaikovsky’s long and intricate tapestry. No encore could satisfactorily follow that emotional rollercoaster, and wisely, no encore did.