Elgar Explored at Kings Place

Edward Bhesania, Feb 2013, The Strad

Spearheaded by pianist Daniel Tong, Elgar Explored was a three-day festival at Kings Place surveying not only the British composer's chamber music, but also other works of his, transcribed for chamber ensembles.
The first concert included Elgar's own voice-and-piano version of the orchestral song cycle Sea Pictures and his arrangement of the 'Canto popolare' section of the overture In the South, the latter played with an attractively light touch by violist Tom Dunn.
Another novelty was the three piano trio movements completed by Paul Adrian Rooke in 2007 and presented as a three movement Piano Trio. Laura Samuel, Kate Gould and Tong made a cohesive team, contrasting a gentle ambling Lento assai with a fiery Allegro moderato. Samuel (former Belcea Quartet member and now concertmaster of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra) led strongly and put every inch of her bow to good use. In the Piano Quintet (the trio here joined by Dunn and violinist Donald Grant), the group was by turns pliable and alert to the work's violent outbursts. The impossibly sustained arc of the Adagio unravelled with poignant unhurriedness - a feat of melodic and harmonic pacing which somehow also retained a surging energy. The rapture caused the heart to race while the intensity of expression set the lip a-quiver