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1901 Arts Club: Matthew Trusler & Gordon Back

| Clubs, Culture, Hidden London, Music, Venues | 27/01/2014

Matthew Trusler
Matthew Trusler

1901 Arts Club // Waterloo

It’s worth getting to 1901 Arts Club early. I arrived about ten minutes after doors open, and the charming and elegant upstairs bar was buzzing. The first in a series of Hattori Foundation Birthday Recitals was pretty much sold out – so book your tickets soon. Erich Gruenberg, chairman of the trust that supports young and gifted musicians, commenced proceedings with an entertaining and enlightening introduction. His pleasure in sharing two of the world’s “favourite sonatas” was infectious.

Spring-boarded by Hattori, Matthew Trusler has rapidly emerged as one of the UK’s star violinists. He gave an assured performance, confident not showy, breathing new life into Brahms’ masterful Violin Sonata No.2. The evening benefited throughout from beautifully soft yet resonant accompaniment by Gordon Back at the fabulous Steinway. Establishing great empathy with the soloist it’s no surprise that the pianist is also Artistic Director of the Menuhin Competition. The dynamic range of the Allegro thrilled with its sudden dips into familiar lullaby-esque-ness. Trusler’s control of the melodic line of the Andante was something to be admired and, more than lulling, totally intoxicating. The sing-song motifs and double harmonies of the Allegretto rounded off his sensitive performance.

1901 Arts Club - Salon

1901 Arts Club salon

Trusler spoke engagingly of Debussy’s Violin Sonata in G minor, offering helpful insights into the maestro’s final opus composed at the outset of WWI. Matthew handled the fluttering lines of the Allegro well, netting the tender wings of an escaping butterfly. A piece that seems fresh every time, he more than did it justice (this alone securing a five-star rating) whilst the most intimate of venues lent to its magic. Beyond those delicately chiming chords on piano both musicians were one with the rhythms of the extraordinarily inventive and playful dialogue. The Finale drew a satisfied sigh and appreciative applause. Strikingly modern, it made a perfect bridge to the Romanian folk arrangements by Bartok.

Gordon Back

Gordon Back

I confess I couldn’t consistently distinguish Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances individually. Mind the gaps, perhaps, though the flow of their execution sparkled. Following the Sash Dance – a joyful tune given that subtle Bartokian edge – came the whistling-wistful harmonics of In One Spot, skilfully delivered yet effortlessly graceful. Then, a hornpipe and polka, two supremely confident turns by Trusler, strident and searing. OK, by now I’d lost my way but the final Fast Dance (an actual mash-up of two tunes) was excellent; foot-tapping and completely engaging, the music careening in mid-air. There followed some serious applause before the duo returned for a well-deserved encore, a handsome rendition of Kreisler’s Liebesleid. ‘Rush Hour Recitals’ anything but.

1901 Arts Club - Bar Lounge

1901 Arts Club bar lounge

1901 Arts Club has cornered this corner of London, the balance so right, you can’t afford not to check it out. The Hattori tickets at £15 are worth every penny with or without the complimentary drink. Be kind to yourself and add another £6 for the Champagne option. Guests unlike me who did not have to ‘rush’ also enjoyed post-concert refreshments. No better start to anyone’s weekend.

Three more recitals for 2014:

Thursday 20 February Sasha Grynyuk, pianoŸ // Pre-concert talk by David Whelton

Thursday 17 April Michael Petrov, cello; Rosie Richardson, piano Ÿ// Pre-concert talk by Imogen Cooper

Thursday 29 May Maxim Rysanov, violaŸ // Pre-concert talk by Gordon Back

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