Rautio Trio

Iffley Church Hall Iffley

By Giles Woodforde

"You'll be singing it in the shower for the next week at least" promised clarinettist Susi Evans as she launched into Norbert Burgmuller's Duo for Clarinet and Piano, Op 15. That promise might have been overselling the piece just a little, but the player's liquid tone and flow­ing delivery made a good case for it none­theless. That liquid tone was evident from the start, when Susi Evans was joined by the eponymous Jan Rautio (piano) and Anna Smith (viola) - the latter almost a native of Iffley, as she comes from Heading­ton. The work was Mozart's Trio K498, allegedly written in a single day while the composer was playing bowls in Vienna.

A smooth sound from viola and clarinet did indeed suggest a ball gently rolling towards its goal - albeit with the piano at times rather stridently suggesting a final collision with the pins in a modern ten-pin bowling alley. But these imaginings are entirely my own; the many facets of this warm work were nicely brought out.

The other centrepiece of the concert, Max Bruch's varied Eight Pieces, Op 83, fitted this combination of instruments and play­ers particularly well, with husky viola tone in the folksong-based no 5, Rumanische Mel­odie, humour in no 7, Allegro Vivace, and telling unison passages from viola and clar­inet in no 3, Andante, and in the tragic no 8, Moderato. Jan Rautio added two solos, the first from Debussy's Images, Book One, the second Beethoven's Sonata no 109, no less, played as a last-minute substitution. Both revealed Rautio as a player with clear ideas and a powerful technique - although per­haps Beethoven wasn't the ideal choice for an upright piano, played in the bright acoustic of Iffley Church Hall.