A brochure for the South Bank Centre’s ‘’ lands on the doormat. My trio has appeared in this series, and the plans are always of interest to me.
But when I look at next season’s programmes, I notice disturbing signs of a policy change. Almost half the concerts follow the format of ‘Celebrity + unnamed others’. The only ‘dedicated’ groups are string quartets. Otherwise:
‘Daniel Hope and musicians’.
‘Julia Fischer and Martin Helmchen’ (with a photo of Julia Fischer only).
‘Tetzlaff String Quartet’ (with a photo of Christian Tetzlaff only).
‘Simon Rattle and members of Berliner Philharmoniker’.
‘Mitsuko Uchida and soloists of Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra’.
‘Mark Padmore and friends’.
‘Lang Lang, Vadim Repin and Mischa Maisky. Programme to be announced.’
This last – illustrated with a dramatic photo of Lang Lang – is the most disturbing for me as a member of a long-standing piano trio. I have enormous admiration for all that Lang Lang has done to spark worldwide interest in the piano, but how confident can one feel in a trio programme offered by three busy soloists who haven’t even decided what to play? Theirs is the only trio in the series.
Of course spur-of-the-moment collaborations can be exciting, and there’s definitely a place for them in festivals and so on, but do they belong in a major chamber music season? When we started the Florestan Trio – which has always had the same members – we were determined to prove that we were serious about being a trio. Now it seems that an ad hoc collection of soloists, or ‘a celebrity’ plus some anonymous collaborators, qualifies for inclusion in a prestigious series of chamber music. I can’t even imagine a situation in which it would be OK for the Florestan Trio to advertise its concerts with a photo of one person only.