Ensemble Avalon


Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin

Mozart – Piano Trio in B flat K 502. Debussy – Cello Sonata. Benedict Schlepper-Connolly – A space of life between.

There wasn’t space for everyone at this concert, with a queue of people turned away once the gallery was full.

The Ensemble Avalon’s visits here – now consolidated into a three-year TCD residency in conjunction with the Hugh Lane – have proven rewarding and grown in popularity since their first one in 2007.

Additionally, however, it was easy to imagine that this appetite for piano trio music had something to do with the day that was in it.

What better antidote, for example, to the weekend’s ubiquitous coverage of political disintegration than the Mozart B flat Piano Trio? It is perfect, it touches the listener’s soul directly, with a beauty that is somehow crafted from logic.

On one level simple music, the Avalon gave it a “simple” performance, allowing the music speak for itself.

The Debussy Cello Sonata is a whole other world, one of fantasy, with a little sadness and quirkiness. Avalon cellist Gerald Peregrine drew you into that world with playing that was light but intense, with the intended nervous energy in the finale.

Benedict Schlepper-Connolly’s A space of life between was an Avalon commission and a world premiere carried over from their snow- cancelled winter festival last month. With a slow, steady toll of single piano notes blended with long notes on the violin and cello, this notably diatonic music was like the soundtrack to film of someone looking out the window of a train descending through the Italian Alps – the experience which seems to have inspired the piece.

Regulars arrive early to these free Hugh Lane concerts and read the Sunday papers until the music begins. Then you see the papers folded up and stowed beneath seats.

Those stowing of those papers carried extra symbolic weight on this tumultuous weekend. For the duration of the concert, people forgot our political woes and allowed their minds and feelings to be brought to a different place.

Thanks, on this occasion, to the Ensemble Avalon, but more universally to the arts – a prime argument for protecting public funding for events like this one, whatever we may owe the IMF.