There have been many claims made over the years that classical music can increase your intelligence. The link between smarts and classical music is known as “The Mozart Effect”, a name which comes from a 1993 study in which volunteers were asked to complete complex challenges while they listened to different music. Their speed and efficiency were then measured and the researchers discovered that the group that had listened to Mozart, excelled at the task. What’s more, their I.Q. was found to be boosted for the duration of the time they performed the task.
The reason I bring up the link between intelligence and classical music is that I am just back from my local garage in Abernethy, after having my car towed there from Blairgowrie last night. You see, it wasn’t a CD of Brahms, Beethoven, or even Bach that was blasting on my car stereo when I pulled into the Tesco garage forecourt late at night and filled my Ford Fiesta with petrol. My diesel Ford Fiesta… with petrol. What a plonker!
Luckily (probably only because I have attended the odd classical concert and own a Brahms box set), I wasn’t actually stupid enough to start the engine. As I waited for an hour and a half in the freezing cold for my car to be recovered, I angrily ejected my CD of Teenage Fanclub’s greatest hits and stuffed it back into its case. After all, it was what got me into this mess. Teenage Fanclub may be the best band in the known universe (don’t debate me on it, I can prove it on a pocket calculator), but there are no studies linking consumption of their music to increased intelligence. I tune the car stereo to Radio 3 where a piece by Mendelssohn is playing, but it’s too little too late. I’ve just filled my car with the most expensive tank of fuel I’ll ever buy.
I’m hoping that today’s Monday lunchtime concert at Perth Concert Hall from The Amatis Piano Trio can show me what the world of chamber music has to offer, and help cure me of my addiction to 90’s indie rock. These three young musicians, Lea Hausmann on violin, Samuel Shepherd on cello and Mengjie Han on piano come highly recommend, and since forming in 2014 have already won a number of prestigious international awards. This year the ensemble has been selected as ‘ECHO Rising Stars’ by the European Concert Organisation, an honour that will see them perform in 23 of the most prestigious concert venues throughout Europe. They have also been included in BBC Radio 3’s New Generation’s Artists series, for which today’s concert is being recorded.
Megjie inspires, particularly during the quieter passages, during which he displays a real deftness of touch.I’ve never actually seen chamber music performed live before, and for some reason, I was surprised by the lack of a conductor. The trio prepare to play the ‘Alegro appassionato’ from Dietrich’s Piano Trio No 2 in A major. It’s interesting to see how they manage to start simultaneously with eye contact alone. Composer Albert Dietrich, has been all but forgotten in favour of his more famous Baroque buddy Brahms. Dietrich is linked to Brahms by this piece of music which formed part of violin sonata that he collaborated on with Brahms and Schuman. Despite his lack of fame, Dietrich’s contribution is a memorable and powerful piece of music which swells with emotion. The young musicians perform it with vigour and aplomb. I particularly enjoy the call and response pizzicato sections between violin and cello. Megjie inspires, particularly during the quieter passages, during which he displays a real deftness of touch.
Next up is ‘Brahms Piano Trio No 2 in C major’, which is a slightly more mysterious and indulgent affair. During the opening Allegro, I enjoy the way Samuel Shepherd strums the strings of his cello with his thumb, producing a sound something akin to that of a classical guitar. During the adagio, Mengjie Han yet again impresses with the sensitivity of his playing, combining soft chords with flurried arpeggios. It is on the blustery, slightly frenzied Scherzo that violinist Lea Hausman really shines. Resplendent and elegant in her red gown, she sways back and forth bringing out the emotion of the music with fantastic energy and attack. The piece concludes with a fantastic finale, overflowing with lyricism but ending on an almost playful note.
There then follows a round of applause that is the chamber music equivalent of ‘Wan Mair Tune’. This prompts an encore of an exquisite tango written by Argentinian composer, which runs the gamut from light and romantic to brooding and suspenseful. A bit like me. It’s been a great early afternoon of culture and entertainment. I feel a little smarter already. Now if only I could find my car keys.
Self-proclaimed 'trashgrass' band, Whiskey Shivers brought their own high-octane blend of country and rock to Birnam Arts on Saturday.
February 3rd Sunday 2019
The cine-literate folk at Perth Film Society served up another treat last Thursday with a screening of Japanese drama Sweet Bean.
January 28th Monday 2019
Perth based band Running wi' Scissors are donating the proceeds of their album On a Wing and a Prayer to Phoenix House.
January 8th Tuesday 2019