Gould Piano Trio & Robert Plane

Piano Trio and Clarinet

April 9, 2017, 4 PM

Music Room

The Gould Piano Trio celebrates its 25th anniversary together in 2017. This British ensemble has long been recognized as one of the most outstanding piano trios (The Washington Post likened it to the Beaux Arts Trio), and these musicians have a close artistic relationship with celebrated clarinetist Robert Plane. Widely praised for its enterprising rediscovery of neglected repertoire, the trio has also recorded complete cycles of Beethoven and Brahms. This program includes Bartok’s Contrasts, originally written for the composer himself to play with Benny Goodman and Joseph Szigeti, and the most resplendent of Brahms’s piano trios.


Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 11 for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano (1797)
     Allegro con brio
     Theme and Variations: Allegretto

BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Contrasts for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano, Sz. 111, BB 116 (1938)
     Verbunkos (Recruiting Dance)
     Pihenö (Relaxation)
     Sebes (Fast Dance)


Piano Trio No.2, Op.87 in C major (1880)
     Andante con moto
     Scherzo. Presto
     Finale. Allegro giocoso

For over twenty years the Gould Piano Trio have remained at the forefront of the chamber music scene, having been launched into an international career by winning the first Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. Selected as YCAT artists they subsequently became 'Rising Stars' performing at major venues in Europe and North America.  Familiar to listeners of BBC Radio 3, they perform at major festivals and venues in the UK and abroad, with regular tours to the United States. They have developed a close relationship with Wigmore Hall in London and draw particular inspiration through creating their own chamber music festivals in Corbridge, Northumberland and in Cardiff at the Royal Welsh College of Music. An important part of their life as a trio has been the masterclasses and workshops they regularly undertake, with residencies at both the Royal Northern and Royal Welsh Colleges of Music.

The highlight of the 2011/12 season was a Beethoven experience for the Trio and their followers, as they performed the cycle of piano trios, recorded "live" for Somm at St.George's Bristol. They also played all the Dvorak trios in the Wigmore's Czech Series. They have recently recorded the trios by Dvorak and Mendelssohn for Champs Hill Records. Such undertakings bring an added concentration and absorption in a particular composer and a new sense of perspective to each work. Their Brahms collection (Quartz label) includes both his surviving early trios, shedding light on this master's later work. The Trio is currently involved in recording the seven trios by Hummel (Naxos), works which seem to provide a commentary on his great contemporaries!

The Goulds have always enjoyed a special relationship with clarinettist Robert Plane; indeed he features in the recordings of both Beethoven and Brahms. Robert has been a guiding influence through an on-going series of recordings and performances of the late Romantic English repertoire. Their British catalogue includes the works of Bax, Scott, Ireland, Stanford and York Bowen. It is a fulfilling task resurrecting this beautiful repertoire so long neglected during the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Celebrating many anniversaries over the years, the Gould's recording with Robert Plane of Messiaen's Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps (Chandos) was described by BBC Music Magazine as "the best modern account of the work".

Exciting future projects include a Schumann Trio/Brahms Piano Quartet cycle at St George’s Bristol and a new piano trio from James MacMillan. Co-commissioned by the Bath International Festival, East Neuk Festival and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, other performances are scheduled at Kings Place and Wigmore Hall in London and at many UK music societies in the 2014/15 season, with its German premiere in Bensheim recorded by Hessischer Rundfunk. MacMillan’s first trio Fourteen Little Pictures is featured with Schubert.

Robert Plane won the Royal OverSeas League Music Competition in 1992. Since then his solo and chamber career has taken him to prestigious venues across Europe and beyond, performing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional de Musica with the City of London Sinfonia, on tour in the USA with the Virginia Symphony and throughout China with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, during which his performance at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts was broadcast live to a TV audience of 6 million.

Robert has become particularly known for his performances and recordings of the magnificent English repertoire for clarinet. Gramophone magazine has praised playing of ‘ravishing lyricism and conviction by Robert Plane, who has now surely fully occupied the shoes of the late Thea King in his championship of British clarinet music.’ His benchmark recording of Finzi’s Clarinet Concerto (BBC Radio 3 Building a Library recommendation and part of the Naxos British Music Series which won a Gramophone Award in 1999) is still a regular feature of the playlists of both Radio 3 and Classic FM nearly twenty years after its initial release. He subsequently recorded discs of music by Bax (a further Gramophone Award shortlisting), John Ireland, Howells, Alwyn, Holbrooke, Robin Milford and Stanford, including Stanford’s Clarinet Concerto with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

Robert made his solo debut at the BBC Proms in 2011 in Simon Holt’s double concerto ‘Centauromachy’. He gave the world premiere of Piers Hellawell’s ‘Agricolas’, with subsequent performances and a CD recording for Delphian with the Ulster Orchestra and the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. Other notable premieres include the clarinet concerto by Diana Burrell, with performances with Royal Northern Sinfonia at the Huddersfield Contemporary Festival and at the Barbican, and Nicola LeFanu’s Concertino. He gave the UK premiere of Christian Jost’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ before taking it the Dortmund Philharmonic during their season celebrating that composer’s works. Other overseas engagements include Copland with the Malta Philharmonic in Valletta and a gala performance of the Bruch Double Concerto for clarinet and viola with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013.

Robert has formed close partnerships with a number of leading chamber ensembles. He has performed and recorded with the Gould Piano Trio for over twenty years and their recording of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time was hailed by Gramophone as the ‘finest modern version’ of this monumental work. He also appears on the Gould Trio’s recorded cycle of the complete trios of both Beethoven and Brahms. Together they direct the Corbridge Chamber Music Festivalin Northumberland.  He has collaborated with the Maggini, Dante, Auer, Carducci, Cavalleri, Brodsky and Tippett Quartets, and his performance of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet with the Skampa Quartet was broadcast live on Radio 3 on the opening night of that station’s ‘Brahms Experience’. Robert has given concerts with the Mandelring Quartet in Germany, the UK and on a West Coast USA tour and a series of recitals in Switzerland with the Swiss Piano Trio. He has performed with pianist Sophia Rahman since meeting as students at the Royal Academy of Music, for music clubs and festivals throughout the UK and on tour in South America, China, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

Alongside his solo and chamber work Robert has held the position of principal clarinet with Royal Northern Sinfonia, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He has played as a guest principal with the Royal Concertgebouw, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.