Lunchtime recital by Ultonian Trio

Summer Lunchtime Recitals at First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street have become a feature of July and August in Belfast,

and with good reason. The aim of the recitals is to provide a platform for young Irish musicians who hope to pursue a professional career. The standard is high, and the surroundings are very pleasant indeed.

Last Wednesday it was the turn of the Ultonian Trio – Catherine Harper on clarinet, Jonathan Simmance on viola and Dominic Ijichi, piano. Their programme was a filling sandwich of two classical works surrounding three popular arrangements. They began with three movements from Max Bruch's Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano. This is a beautiful work, full of Bruch's inventive approach to melody and the interplay of the three very contrasting instrumental sounds. Jonathan Simmance began the work in a somewhat restrained manner but warmed wonderfully and exhibited glorious technique and feel for dynamic contrast. Catherine Harper makes a lovely rich sound and has an intuitive sense of phrasing and pace. Dominic Ijichi is technically accomplished, with a somewhat less nuanced style, his range of musical colour possibly restrained by the new piano in Rosemary Street.

The three arrangements of popular classic and jazz tunes were a wonderful example of how three musicians can be made to sound like six. Rossini's Overture to the Barber of Seville is a daunting play for full orchestra, but this version for trio presented a transparent new insight to the piece. Clever writing meant that tunes and counter motifs passed engagingly between the players. The same was true of Ellington's It Don't Mean a Thing and Gershwin's I Got Rhythm.

So completely did the Ultonian create the sound world of these works, it was a bit of an adjustment to settle back for Mozart's Kegelstatt Trio, but this was well worth the transition. The recitals continue each Wednesday at 1.15pm to the end of August.

Andrea Rea