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.