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The Herald, Scotland

Review: Music at Paxton, Leonore Trio, Picture Gallery,
Paxton House
29th July 2019 by Keith Bruce

AN intense weekend of music-making on the closing days of director Angus Smith’s first Paxton programme brought together the talents of the Maxwell Quartet, beginning a three-year association with the event, and the Leonore Trio, with whom Smith is associated in his other job at Sheffield’s Crucible theatre.

The Leonore began their presentation of major works from the history of composition for piano, violin and cello with Mozart and Brahms (with Haydn and Beethoven following). Mozart’s Piano Trio in B flat major may date from a time when he and Constanze were likely not doing a lot of entertaining, but its performance was perfectly placed in this venue, dating from exactly the right period, although with probably rather more of us in the room that it would have seen in the 1780s.

Pianist Tim Horton was very much to the fore for the bulk of the first two movements, the themes only passed to violinist Benjamin Nabarro and cellist Gemma Rosefield after they were thoroughly tested on the keyboard. In the Allegretto, Nabarro had the opportunity to kick off and dominate the music before the counterpoint has phrases passed around for all three to share the leading voice.

In its revised version from his later years, Brahms’s Piano Trio No 1 is a huge work, often a showcase for the cellist, and featured exquisite playing from Gemma Rosefield. There was perfect communication with her partners in the group in the ebb and flow of pace and dynamics in the opening movements, with much from her, and she eventually had the main melody in the powerful Adagio as well. It is the heart of the work, to which the trio brought a profound intensity, before Rosefield’s cello moved the narrative on again into the choppier waters of the deliberately ambivalent finale.

The Leonore Trio created a gorgeous sense of unity in Mozart’s B-flat trio, the liquid cello line perfectly balancing the sparkling piano, with the violin singing at the top. Their Brahms had a gorgeous, autumnal quality, and if their Haydn was austere then the understated nobility that they brought to Beethoven’s Archduke trio was superb, especially the sensationally beautiful set of variations.

Simon Thompson, The Times ****

Reviews Gate

Leonore Piano Trio, Theatre Royal Nottingham, 12 July 2019.

by William Ruff

A glowingly passionate opening to Nottingham’s Chamber Music Festival

The Nottingham Chamber Music Festival has a logo: half a violin and an arrow rather than a bow. Some will see a Robin Hood link. But others will see just how precisely aimed this arrow is and sense the creative energy behind its release.

The Festival is, of course, about the music – but there is also far more going on. Take this year’s opening event. Even before the Leonore Piano Trio (Benjamin Nabarro, Gemma Rosefield and Tim Horton) played a note it was clear where the Festival’s heart lies. The Theatre Royal’s Dress Circle foyer sounded and felt good, offering an oasis of cultural calm amid the city’s busyness. There were friendly words of welcome, tea and cake, highly accessible organisers and musicians. It’s not often instruments are introduced but when a cello happens to have been owned by the Prince Regent and when the inlaid ‘GR’ happens also to be the initials of the Trio’s cellist, that is worth knowing.

The Festival’s sense of adventure and discovery was clear from the outset. Just about no-one in the audience would have known Hubert Parry’s 1st Piano Trio. He’s a composer more-or-less ignored these days apart from one of two choral pieces. But this youthful music, composed when he was still working in the insurance business, made for an arresting start of the Festival weekend.

Anyone who thinks that chamber music is pale and polite should listen to the way Parry opens his Trio. The Leonores relished the passionate energy of the first movement, the three instruments entering a hairsbreadth apart as individuals before combining in unexpectedly intricate, often thrilling ways. This performance did more than dust off something dragged out of the cultural museum. The Leonore Trio used their virtuosity and insight to bring out the individuality in Parry’s musical personality. Yes, there was plenty of Brahms, Mendelssohn and Schumann in the mix – but the Trio’s handling of the opening movement’s urgency as well as the effervescent scherzo, the expansively lyrical slow movement and quirkily exhilarating finale will have made those present scratch their heads and wonder why this music isn’t better known.

With no time to get their breath back the Leonore Trio were straight into their programme’s other offering: the much-revised Piano Trio No 1 by Brahms. This is music which must flow in the Leonores’ arteries. It opens with one of the most majestic melodic inspirations to spring from the composer’s early years and the Trio made it sound magnificently dramatic. Another highlight was the serene opening to the slow movement with its long cello melody and the way the piano’s chorale-like phrases are answered by the two string instruments. The finale was excitingly handled too, the Leonores making the most of its wild eeriness.

Throughout their programme the Leonore Piano Trio injected their playing with authority and energy, capturing the ardently romantic glow of the music and launching the 2019 Festival in a spirit of passionate commitment.

Ilkley Gazette

Glorious Beethoven at the Ilkley Concert Club

LEONORE PIANO TRIO at the King’s Hall 

10th October 2018 by Chris Skidmore

A packed King’s Hall greeted the Leonore Piano Trio for the first concert of the 73rd season of the Ilkley Concert Club. These players are well known to Ilkley music-lovers as part of the Sheffield-based Ensemble 360 but have been playing and recording as an independent trio since 2012.

Their programme started with one of Haydn’s late trios, written in London and designed to show off the excellence of Broadwood’s new pianos. The strings necessarily take a subsidiary role but we were at once aware that these players know each other inside out so that balance is never a problem. Tim Horton managed the intricate piano lines with his usual lightness of touch with Benjamin Nabarro (violin) and Gemma Rosefield (cello) giving strong support, especially in the stormier passages of the third movement, which they took at a cracking pace.

The discovery of the evening was Parry’s first trio, an unexpectedly substantial work. Although there are echoes of Brahms throughout, the scherzo had a Mendelssohnian lightness of touch, bubbling along towards a carefree ending. The following adagio is the romantic heart of the work, a duet in which the violin and cello trade lyrical phrases against a rocking piano accompaniment. The Leonore gave the work a committed performance which evoked warm applause.

Reserving the best for last, the players excelled in a magnificent rendition of Beethoven’s Archduke trio. Every line was given its due weight without detracting from the ensemble with some fine passages especially from Gemma Rosefield’s cello. The staccato section in the first movement was faultless and I was particularly struck by the sinister sound of the sinuous worm-like second subject in the second movement. There was rapt attention in the hall for the hymn-like variations of the third movement before the trio culminated in a vivacious account of the finale with its typically Beethovenian surprise ending.

A well-deserved and extended ovation greeted the trio to which they responded by playing the adagio of Beethoven’s Op. 11 trio, written for clarinet, but here given in its violin version.

Presteigne Festival 2017 - Leonore Piano Trio - October 2017

Violinist Benjamin Nabarro, violist Rachel Roberts and cellist Gemma Rosefield revelled in Brown’s glorious melodies and profoundly idiomatic writing. This natural crowd-pleaser crowns a thinly-populated genre. Further performances and a recording, preferably with these artists, should be arranged with all possible dispatch.

The next festival commission, also performed in St Andrew’s Church, was premiered by cellist Gemma Rosefield and pianist Tim Horton. Robert Peate’s haunting three-movement Knucklas Arches was inspired by the impressive, thirteen-arch Victorian viaduct that towers over the village of Knucklas, near Knighton. The opening slow movement was veiled, expansive and imposing with spiritual overtones; the coursing central movement was powered by motorrhythms, and the sustained finale was introspective and songlike. Peate’s delicate and painterly paragraphs were sensitively realised in this cogent and satisfying first performance. The new commission was preceded by John Rushby-Smith’s tuneful and refined Violin Sonata, played with taste and charm by Benjamin Nabarro and Tim Horton. The concert ended with an indelible reading of Brahms’ Piano Quartet in G minor, Op 25.

The three musicians we had already heard, now playing as the Leonore Trio, tore into the music with knuckle-whitening abandon, especially in the concluding rondo which positively zinged with Hungarian panache. It is important to state that this virtuosity was entirely at the service of the music, the talented players giving us a view of the score that was authentically and profoundly Brahmsian.

Deservedly cheered to the rafters, the Leonore Trio’s coruscating, bravura account revitalised a staple of the repertoire and constituted, to my mind, the highpoint of the entire festival – no mean feat.

''...Ending the thirty-fifth Presteigne Festival with distinction, this concert was the last in a whole series of memorable musical occasions at Radnorshire’s cultural capital. Space constraints forbid me from detailing all the artistic peaks, but I must also mention Gemma Rosefield’s solo recital in St Mary’s Church, Kinnerton, which was launched by a moving and emotionally engaging performance of Sally Beamish’s Gala Water; Rosefield and Tim Horton’s trenchant reading of John McCabe’s surprisingly dark and violent cello sonata, and flautist Katherine Baker, violist Rachel Roberts and pianist Tim Horton’s vibrant rendering of Edward Gregson’s wide-ranging Aztec Dances..."

Paul Conway

Aberdeem Music Society
The Leonore Piano Trio review – Aberdeen Chamber Music Concerts
“The Leonore Piano Trio…gave three sensational performances of highly contrasting masterpieces for piano trio…Tim Horton’s playing throughout the work had irresistible fluency and expressiveness…amazing delicacy and lightness with sizzling incisive intensity…the ensemble as a whole stamped their quality on the music…Tim Horton’s gutsy playing made an unstoppable torrent of notes pour forth from the Cowdry Hall piano – absolutely amazing!...duetting lusciously together.”
Reviewed by Andrew Buchanan-Smart
14 November 2012
Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts
The Royal Over-Seas League enables the best chamber music groups from universities to compete for a very substantial scholarship. This was the sixth consecutive year that the competition has been held at the Academy.

It is tradition that some from the adjudicating panel perform at the opening concert; this year the judges performing were the Leonore Trio of Timothy Horton, Benjamin Nabarro and Gemma Rosefield.

Haydn’s Piano Trio No 27 was played with all the characteristics of classical style; elegance, clarity, crispness and a sense of elastic tempi as Horton sparkled his way through the virtuoso piano part, allowing the accompaniment to meld into the background. In Ravel’s Piano Trio the ethereal hues and the reflective nuances captured the poignant moments.

The Pantoum was exciting, while the Passacaille portrayed a bleaker terrain. The Finale was beautifully opulent with its warm lustres and full-bodied optimism. Holkham Beach by Simon Rowland-Jones was characterful as it traversed many moods which flowed almost seamlessly from one to the other; from the bleak to the scampering, from insecurity to fortitude and with a Presto full of energy and drama.

Dvořák’s Piano Trio Op.65 was powerful with an expansive lush sound where Nabarro and Rosefield created a lovely blend and balance with the tuneful grazioso. The warmness and delicate phrasing of the Poco Adagio with its long legato lines were tinged with melancholy. The varieties of colours, energy and drive in the Allegro con brio were finely paced so that it built layers to its final climax.

A great programme, a marvelous performance, what music making is all about. Make time to hear the finalists and scholarship winners in their concert on Friday 16th.

© Leonore Piano Trio 2012