Fournier Trio
St Peter's Church, Shaldon
Bridge Road
TQ14 0DB
United Kingdom
Type: Concert
Date: Friday 19 June 2015
Start Time: 7.30pm
Performer(s): Fournier Trio
Host Organisation: Shaldon Festival
Box Office Contact: Malcolm Watson
Box Office Email:

Fournier Trio

Chiao-Ying Chang piano
Sulki Yu violin
Pei-Jee Ng cello


BEETHOVEN Variations on an original theme in E flat major, Op. 44
ARENSKY Piano Trio No.1 in D minor, Op.32
BRAHMS Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8 (revised)


Concert Review

Friday night is traditionally a platform for young musicians. This year the Festival welcomed a young Piano Trio, the Fournier Trio, who are already established performers with critically acclaimed debuts at both the Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room in London. Winners of the 2013 Parkhouse Award, this trio is made up of three exceptional young artists. Taiwanese pianist Chiao-Ying Chang is a top prize winner at the Leeds International Piano Festival, Korean violinist Sulki Yu is a laureate of the Menuhin violin competition, whilst Australian Pei-Jee Ng was a winner of the Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year Competition.

The Fournier Trio opened the concert with a less familiar work by Beethoven, Variations on an original theme in E flat major, Op. 44. The intentionally simple-minded theme, almost a joke of a beginning, is a series of simple unadorned arpeggios in octave unisons by all three players. Beethoven then develops fourteen variations, decorative in the tradition of the eighteenth century but with contrasting spirit and textures employed. Immediately we were treated to beautiful and sympathetic ensemble playing by the Trio. Played with a delicate touch, each of the variations was a pleasure to listen to individually. The balance was perfect allowing each variation to sing through the accompanying instruments. The dialogue between violin and cello worked well in the seventh variation, and the piano playing was always crisp and clear.

This was followed by Anton Arensky’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, dedicated to the cellist Karl Davidov who is regarded as the founder of the Russian school of cello-playing. This accounts for the fact that the cello plays such a prominent role, having most of the principal themes. The piece opened with a strong Allegro, the deeply emotive passages flowed effortlessly from one player to another. The Scherzo was filled with electrifying moments particularly Chiao-Ying Chang’s piano playing; the rapidly ascending and descending passages were played with great verve and power. In the third movement Elegia we heard a duet between the violin and cello played with warmth and feeling by Sulki Yu on violin and Pei-Jee Ng on cello. The piece concluded with a fast-paced and dramatic Finale, finishing with great flourish.

After the interval we were treated to Brahms Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op.8 (revised) one of the most sumptuous in the piano trio repertoire. Brahms composed this first of his three Piano Trios at the age of 21, then pruned and recomposed it in his late 50’s. The four movements demonstrated the full dynamic range and musical ability of the Fournier Trio: the exquisite and refined playing of the cello melody in the opening Allegro, a rollicking romp in the Scherzo but always kept in control, the buildup of drama in the Adagio and the spectacular and powerful climax of the final Allegro movement. It was a consummate display of technical brilliance and musicianship.

It is an exhilarating feeling when an audience knows it has just been enthralled by a performance from young musicians early in their career who are inevitably destined for greatness on the world stage.

Enid Hayles
22 June 2015

Variations on an original theme in E flat major, Op. 44

Beethoven’s 14 Variations on an original theme for piano, violin and cello were published as Op. 44 in 1804 but there are sketches of the work dating back as far as 1792, the year now conventionally assigned as the composition date, when Beethoven was twenty-two years old and already displaying a mastery of the theme and variations form.

The central delight of a theme and variations is the sheer variety a composer can achieve with a single idea, in a sense, changing that material as much as possible while retaining something of the original. Beethoven achieves this by, variously, changing the instrumentation, melody, rhythm, harmony and duration and thereby the colour, mood and pace of the music.

ANTON ARENSKY (1861 - 1906)
Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32
I. Allegro moderato - II. Scherzo (Allegro molto) - III. Elegia (Adagio) - IV. Finale (Allegro non troppo)

Anton Arensky, composer, pianist, conductor and teacher, was a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov and later taught Rachmaninov and Scriabin. His parents were both amateur musicians and by the time he was 9 Arensky was already composing songs and piano pieces. He entered the St Petersburg Conservatory in 1879, graduated with the Gold Medal in 1882 and immediately joined the faculty of the Moscow Conservatory, a marked distinction for a twenty-one- year-old. In Moscow he received friendly encouragment from Tchaikovsky, whose musical style had the greatest impact on Arensky's development as a composer. Resigning in 1895 he returned to St. Petersburg as director of the Imperial Chapel until 1901 when he focussed on composing and touring as a successful concert pianist and conductor. A high lifestyle had a detrimental effect on his health and he died from tuberculosis in a Finnish sanatorium a few months before his forty-fifth birthday.

Rimsky-Korsakov wrote in his memoirs, somewhat acidly but also presciently, that Arensky’s oeuvre would slip into obscurity as his style was too derivative of his own work and that of Tchaikovsky. His Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 32 has, however, retained its place in the repertoire and remains his most frequently performed extended composition. It was written in memory of the cellist Karl Davidov, who had been director of the St. Petersburg conservatory while Arensky was a student there. The cello is featured prominently, no doubt in honour of Davidov, and perhaps also as a tribute to Arensky's father who played the cello. Apparently using Mendelssohn's Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, op. 49, as a model, Arensky's Trio demonstrates his lyrical gifts as well as his deftness in organising convincing musical discourse.

JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833 - 1897)
Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8 (revised)
I. Allegro con brio – II. Scherzo: Allegro Molto – III. Adagio – IV. Allegro

In 1854, at the age of twenty-one, Brahms published his first chamber composition, the Piano Trio in B major, Op. 8. This was momentous as he was severely self-critical and had destroyed several earlier chamber works, but it wasn’t well received at its public performance in 1855. A notice in The New York Times referred to ‘the usual defects of a young writer, among which may be enumerated length and solidarity’. Brahms had shared Clara Schumann’s desire for a different first movement and when, thirty-five years later, his new publisher asked if he would like to revise any of his works already in print, Brahms seized the opportunity. Despite his claiming, “I didn’t provide it with a new wig, just combed and arranged its hair a little”, the changes were radical: he shortened the work by about one-third, significantly modifying all but the scherzo.

Lasting nearly half of its total duration, the first movement is a massive sonata beginning with a beautiful theme in the cello, jarred by violent contrast and escalating into a mountain of dramatic development. A restless character dominates most of the trio from the first movement’s secondary themes to the brooding march of the scherzo to the wind-blown sweep of the final rondo. Typical of Brahms, the textures are thick, frequently juxtaposing the heavy romantic piano with the strings unified in a variety of parallel harmonies and symmetric counter motions. To counterbalance such weight the third movement is the lightest and is perhaps the most emotionally compelling. The soft musical meditation focusses primarily on the piano with echoing commentary by an ethereal chorus of strings. The Adagio, having benefitted greatly from a new second theme, opens with a disquieting theme introduced by the cello leading to a dramatic climax after which the piano presents a second equally restless theme. Following extensive development of these ideas the recapitulation and coda lead to a glorious sweeping conclusion, unusually in B minor and not the home key.

Formed in 2009, the London-based Fournier Piano Trio is rapidly emerging as one of the leading young piano trios. Winners of the 2013 Parkhouse Award they were awarded both 2nd Prize and Audience Prize at the 6th Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition in 2011. The trio has made critically acclaimed debuts
at both the Purcell Room and Wigmore Hall in London and in 2011 embarked on it's first European Tour after their selection for 'New Masters on Tour' at the International Holland Music Sessions, the tour culminated in their debut at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

During the 2012 season the trio made appearances at the Bath International Music Festival, Newbury Spring Festival and Chichester Festivities and they toured Scotland extensively as part of their Tunnell Trust Award. In 2013 they made an appearance at the
Devizes Festival and toured Asia with concerts in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. This included a visit to Singapore's Yong Siew Toh Conservatory to give masterclasses and perform in the 'Ones to Watch' Series.

David Takeno has been a continuous influence on the trio's development since the formation of the ensemble. During the trio's early years they were Leverhulme Chamber Music Fellows at the Royal Academy of Music where they worked with renowned pedagogues Thomas Brandis, Christopher Elton, Michael Dussek and Sung-Won
Yang in addition to their duties as mentors to student chamber groups.

Since 2011 the Fournier Trio have been 'Artist-in-Residence' at Wolfson College, University of Oxford where they continue to perform recitals and conduct masterclasses.

In addition to their recital performances throughout the UK, the trio have made regular visits to the Trondheim International Music Festival, in 2010 performing Faure's Piano Quartet No.2 with Lawrence Power and in 2012 collaborating with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies in a
performance of his Piano Trio in addition to giving masterclasses.

The trio are passionate about contemporary music and have worked with leading British composers Gary Carpenter, Hugh Wood, Timothy Salter and Daniel Kidane to expand the piano trio repertoire. The trio plans to record their debut album later this year for USK Recordings,the disc will include Timothy Salter's Piano Trio along side the Faure and Ravel Trios.

They have participated in masterclasses by Martin Lovett, Gabor Takacs-Nagy, Susan Tomes, Leif Ove Andsnes, Ralph Kirshbaum and Daniel Hope. The Fournier Trio are grateful to the Kirckman Concert Society, Park Lane Group and Philharmonia Orchestra MMSF for their support.

Link to the Fournier Trio website click here

Parking Map for St Peter's Church, Shaldon


St Peter’s Church, Bridge Road, Shaldon, TQ14 0DB


1. Long Stay Public Carpark ½ mile from the church, reached through the village or off the A379 coast road to Torquay, postcode TQ14 0HP – 381 spaces, “pay & display” during the day but free after 6.00pm. Allow 15 minutes for the blue walking route shown.
2. Short Stay Public Carpark, opposite the church, postcode TQ14 0BP – 48 spaces, “pay & display” subject to a short stay 4 hour limit during the day but free after 6.00pm.
3. Extra parking – limited space adjoining the recreation ground reached from Ringmore Road but with easy pedestrian access to the Church along the estuary embankment. If using this area, please park “tidily” to maximise the usable space; this area is only available for parking as a special arrangement for the Festival.


Please telephone Malcolm Watson on 01626 873492 if you need help with letting someone alight at the church and/or need seating space for a wheelchair. In addition, there are a very few parking spaces close to the church which we can reserve for those with mobility difficulties on a first come, first served, basis.