Review: Moricosta String Trio/Martin Roscoe, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, May 8

THERE’S nothing like a big name. The Moricosta trio was unknown to me, but the addition of Martin Roscoe to the roster was a game-changer: he is one of the finest pianists anywhere.

The Moricostas are no slouches either. Lucy Baker (violin) and Steven Burnard (viola) play in the BBC Philharmonic; Jessica Burroughs is principal cellist with the Orchestra of Opera North. Orchestral players get a special buzz from chamber music: it allows them to express themselves.

So it proved in piano quartets by Brahms and Fauré. Brahms’s Second is a sprawling piece, one of his sunniest. Its opening was gloriously laid-back here, reaching an emphatic climax from which it gently subsided. Equally sweeping was the finale, with its jack-in-the-box coda neatly prepared. It was set off by a serene Adagio and the primary colours of the Scherzo’s trio in between.

Piano quartets can easily turn into piano concertos. Not, however, with Roscoe at the helm. He never allowed his relentlessly busy role in Faure’s Second Piano Quartet to dominate proceedings. But his invariably stylish phrasing was happily picked up by the strings. This was especially true in the work’s second Allegro Molto, where the piano’s perpetual motion did not disturb the airy textures.

Solo viola episodes in the odd-numbered movements introduced plaintive tinges, but they were dissolved by the urgency of the brilliant closing Allegro. Four talents had mingled into a deeply satisfying evening.

Martin Dreyer