“England sleeps in shroud of snow,
Bells, sadly sweet, knell life’s swift flight.
And tears, unbid, are wont to flow,
As ‘Noel! Noel!’ sounds across the night.
To those in snow,
To those in sun,
Love is but one;
Hearts beat and glow,
By oak and palm.
Friends, in storm or calm.”
From ‘A Christmas Greeting’ Lady A Elgar
On Friday 3rd of December 2021, I attended a concert given by the Trio Paradis at the Town Hall in Midsomer Norton, Somerset. The Trio Paradis (piano, violin and cello), is a semi-professional group, and this concert closed their 2021 season. They perform in Frome, Midsomer Norton, Bradford-on-Avon and Croscombe, and often give repeat performances in the four locations.
The concert had a good audience of around thirty-five people of various ages. The chamber was fairly spacious, at the top of a Victorian building. Listeners sit informally in a style and space that suggest either a domestic or salonish concert. It is like stepping back in time to attend, bringing the audience closer perhaps to the intended purpose of much of the music performed.
All the works were prefaced by a few words of musical and historical insight from the pianist Jacquelyn Bevan. Her asides were always to the point, and the audience’s reaction to the music seemed to show how background information, either to do with style or biographical, can give unfamiliar music sufficient background and personal meaning to draw in the hesitant.
The pieces included music by classical composers such as: Martinu, Purcell, Vivaldi, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Handel, Robin Milford and Berlioz; and lighter pieces by Felix Bernard and Leroy Anderson.
At the last concert, the Trio Paradis asked for suggestions for Christmas music and my family chose music by Robin Milford, and the Trio played his Pastoral Dance on On Christmas Night.
I enjoyed the music because it was cheerful; the atmosphere was as festive. At times, it was restful (A Christmas Greeting), at others sombre (The Coventry Carol), or energetic (For Unto Us a Child is Born). The piece with the most brio and momentum was saved till last. Moreover, the selection began and ended with a sleigh ride – the little-known Martinu opening, and the famous and popular Anderson, closing the concert – a pleasant seasonal journey! The applause was justifiably sustained and enthusiastic.