Yesterday’s free concert was given by the Zodiac Trio. They are a young group consisting of Kliment Krylovsky (clarinet) Vanessa Mollard (violin) and Riko Higuma (piano). The programme was titled Music from a Silenced Nation: Soviet Composers and it was presented, appropriately enough, on the greyest, dreariest day of the season so far. They brightened it up considerably. The programme opened with a virtuosic rendering of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat followed by the first movement of Denisov’s Sonata for Solo Clarinet. This latter is a very strange work for its time and place. It experiments with quarter tones and is generally the sort of thing that would get one sent to the gulag. Next came the Allegretto from Shostakovich’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op 134, composed for David Oistrakh. This piece places huge physical and technical demands on the players which Mollard and Higuma really came through on. The final item on the programme was Galina Ulstvolskaya’s Trio. This I must listen to again. Why is this woman not better known? She was a pupil of Shostakovich and her work has many of the qualities that make her teacher so great. It was played beautifully with special props to Higuma who was required to get a very wide range of effects out of the piano. They encored with an uncredited tango of considerable bravura.
I would say that the Zodiac Trio are exceptionally committed to what they do and show great musicianship and serious musical erudition. Go see them if you get a chance.