Iffley Music Society

Bochmann String Trio: Iffley Church

By Giles Woodforde

"I always think of it as being like a song," Michael Bochmann said of Schubert's Trio in B flat major. "We'd be very pleased if you would make up your own words." As Schubert only finished the first movement, there wasn't much time to think up a storyline, but to me the Trio (Michael Bochmann, violin, Carol Allen, viola, and Nella Hunkins, cello) conjured up a picture of an autumn leaf floating down a stream, its progress dramatically delayed every now and then by a stone or boulder.

The Bochmanns were giving the first concert in Iffley Music Society's new season. They were also christening a new performance space — a bright, stone-floored area created by removing some dark Victorian pews previously occupying the chancel. The change greatly enhances the architecture of this beautiful building.

New, too, to most of us was the second work played: Ernst von Dohnanyi's Serenade, Op 10. During the course of a long life, von Dohnanyi only became famous for one work, Variations on a Nursery Song. Composed in 1900, when major musical developments were under way, the five-movement Serenade is founded in the Romantic style, but some steely playing from Bochmann's violin in particular emphasised a more progressive influence in the Tema con Variazione: that of von Dohnanyi's friend Bartók. In contrast, the wistful Romance was led by the viola, playing over gentle pizzicato accompaniment.

Although only together for a fairly short time, the Bochmanns have much individual experience under their belts, meaning that they have quickly reached a state of evident musical empathy. This was demonstrated to the full in Mozart's magnificent Divertimento, K563. Closing your eyes, it was difficult to believe that only three players were involved, such were the depth and variety of sound colours achieved, with the players making light of the bravura demands of the final Rondo — sounding here remarkably like Papageno's jaunty opening aria in The Magic Flute.

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