This debut release – Grime / Watkins / Schumann / Schumann – by Wales-based Odysseus Piano Trio champions trios by two prominent musical couples, divided by nearly two centuries.
Robert and Clara Schumann’s lives and musical endeavours are familiar, with Clara’s compositions gradually becoming more prominent in recent years. In 21st-century Britain, Helen Grime and Huw Watkins are prominent composers on the international scene. The sound worlds of their distinctive piano trios explore entirely different timbres and textures from each other, also providing illuminating complements to both Schumanns’ works.
Formed in 2015, the Odysseus Piano Trio is developing a reputation as one of the most dynamic and distinctive ensembles to emerge in recent years. Formed by well-known and distinguished musicians, the trio have performed at Kings Place, St David's Hall and regularly perform in festivals and for concert societies in the UK.
The Trio write:
The pairing of works by two married couples first became an exciting idea to us when we realised that our friends Huw Watkins and Helen Grime had both written wonderful, substantial piano trios. For Rosie and Sara, students at Cambridge at the same time as Huw, the Watkins trio had been a clear choice of contemporary work to get our teeth stuck into. When we discovered that his wife, Helen (an equally eminent composer), had written a delicately ethereal trio which explored a totally different kind of timbre and texture from Huw’s, we thought it would be illuminating and fun to record them alongside each other.
From there, it was a quick step to adding Robert and Clara Schumann into the mix: another partnership of highly talented and successful artists, with Clara a composer-pianist of extraordinary prowess and Robert a gifted and prolific composer. Robert Schumann’s Studies in Canonic Form connect well with the concept of couples, as they inevitably explore harmony and counterpoint in a significant way. This was a discipline in which he found great personal solace, particularly through studies of Bach, which he and Clara undertook together.
These two married couples, then, sit together on this disc, providing fascinating points of comparison and contrast. We have been privileged to meet with Helen and Huw to discuss their work, while a similar privilege of access to Robert and Clara must sadly be confined to our imaginations. We hope that you enjoy listening to the music of these four composers as much as we enjoyed exploring it while we recorded.
HELEN GRIME (1981)
Three Whistler Miniatures
1 i. The Little Note in Yellow and Gold (Tranquillo) 3:02
2 ii. Lapis Lazuli (Presto) 3:27
3 iii. The Violet Note (Lontano, molto flessibile) 4:14
ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810-56)
Six Pieces in Canonic Form, Op. 56
4 i. Nicht zu schnell 1:59
5 ii. Mit Innigem Ausdruck 3:47
6 iii. Andantino 1:25
7 iv. Innig 3:01
8 v. Nicht zu schnell 2:17
9 vi. Adagio 3:23
HUW WATKINS (1976)
10 i. Allegro 6:34
11 ii. Lento 7:47
12 iii. Allegro Molto 4:57
CLARA SCHUMANN (1819-1896)
Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17
13 i. Allegro moderato 11:19
14 ii. Scherzo, tempo di Menuetto 5:05
15 iii. Andante 4:38
16 iv. Allegretto 8:09
total duration: 01:15:13
Odysseus Piano Trio
In addition to her role of principal cello with Welsh National Opera, Rosie Biss enjoys a busy and varied career as chamber musician, soloist, guest principal, and teacher.
As recitalist and former member of the Zehetmair Quartet and Trio, European Music Project and Scottish Ensemble, Rosie has played throughout Europe, America and Asia’s concert halls, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, WDR 3 and performed at major music festivals including Edinburgh, Aspen, Verbier and Schleswig-Holstein.
Around the busy WNO schedule, playing in the orchestral pit, symphony and chamber concerts, and sometimes in costume and character as part of the opera, Rosie has also guest-led the cello sections of Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé, Bournemouth Symphony, BBC National Orchestras of Wales and Scotland, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera and Opera North, and the Royal Northern Sinfonia.
Away from the regular classical regime, Rosie has recorded albums with folk musicians Rachel Unthank and Troy Donockley and performed with the German cabaret show Ensemble Extravagance!.
Rosie studied at Cambridge University and Cologne Musikhochschule under Maria Kliegel. Now a keen educator, Rosie teaches cello and chamber music at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, has coached for the National Children’s Orchestra, and gives masterclasses annually at Cellofest.
Rosie plays on a Roman cello circa 1730 by Giulio Cesare Gigli, and a 1990 Welsh cello by Clive Morris.
Sara Trickey enjoys a diverse career as a solo violinist and chamber musician. Noted for her ‘fiery and passionate’ performances (The Strad) and her ‘beautifully refined tone’ (Musical Opinion), she has performed at many of the major UK festivals and venues, including at Presteigne, Alwyn, Oxford May Music, York, Ashburton and Wye Valley Chamber Music festivals. She plays regularly with pianist Dan Tong with whom she has recorded the Schubert Sonatinas to critical acclaim. A CD of Fauré and David Matthews has recently been released by Deux-Elles. She also made a world premiere recording of Mathias’s violin sonatas with Iwan Llewelyn-Jones.
Sara has performed a wide selection of repertoire for violin and orchestra, with orchestras that include the City of London Sinfonia and the Orchestra of St John’s. She recently recorded the David Matthews Double Concerto for violin, viola and strings with the English Symphony Orchestra and violist Sarah-Jane Bradley.
She is a founder member of the Odysseus Piano Trio and is currently a member of The Rossetti Ensemble and she plays in a violin duo with Andrew Watkinson, leader of the Endellion Quartet. Prior to forming these groups, Sara led the Bronte String Quartet for six years, winning the Royal Overseas League competition and second prize in the Cremona International Quartet competition.
Sara curated her own project, Dancing with Apollo, at Kings Place as part of the Spitalfields Festival. This was a multi-media project based around Greek myth. As well as music for violin and piano it included narration and dance involving collaborations with director Marina Warner, choreographer Kim Brandstrup, and pianist Ivana Gavrić.
She has also collaborated recently with Chicago-based Joffrey Ballet and choreographer Cathy Marston, to create the short film Bertha, with a score written for her – as a solo violinist accompanied by hand pans – by Errollyn Wallen
Sara studied with Camilla Wicks and was very much influenced by her studies at IMS Prussia Cove. She read Classics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and this continues to be a passion. She also enjoys teaching, primarily at the Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Robin Green enjoys a busy career as a soloist, chamber musician and conductor. He regularly performs in festivals in the UK and Europe, recent highlights of which include the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the Interlaken Classics Festival, Davos Young Artists Festival, the International Musicians Seminar ‘Open Chamber’ Festival at Prussia Cove, the Pharos Trust, Penarth Chamber Music festival and the Festival Radio France Occitanie Montpellier.
His discography includes works by Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Schubert, Kurtág, Huw Watkins and Helen Grime. Dialog mit Mozart, released on the Gramola label, was Editor’s Choice in The Strad. The recording he made with the Françoise-Green Duo, Games, Chorales and Fantasie was released on the Claves label and reviewed by Gramophone: ‘Françoise-Green are intelligent and sensitive musicians with a genuine flair for imaginative programming.’
Chamber music forms a central part of Robin’s life as a musician. A former recipient of the Leverhulme Chamber music fellowship at the Royal College of Music, Robin was the first prize winner of the Royal Overseas League Chamber music competition, the Concours Nicati in Switzerland, and was a prize winner as part of a duo at the International Schubert Competition. He has collaborated with Gordan Nikolitch, Valeryi Sokolov, Bogdan Božović, Christoph Richter, Christian Elliott, Catherine Manson and Alice Neary amongst others.
Robin is a piano professor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The focal point of his studies were chamber music coachings with mentors György Kurtág, Rainer Schmitt and Ferenc Rados.