Our June 2024 issue spotlights piano trios who are making waves in the classical music scene today. Charlotte Gardner takes a closer look at the Mithras Trio

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The Mithras Trio

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This is an excerpt from The Strad June 2024 feature Three’s company: the rise of piano trios. Read the full article here

Violinist Ionel Manciu, cellist Leo Popplewell and pianist Dominic Degavino formed the Mithras Trio in 2017 at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama when their respective teachers’ hunch that they’d work well together turned out to be correct. The ensemble’s long list of awards and achievements includes first prize at Trondheim (2019), a place on the BBC New Generation Artists scheme (2021–3) and this year a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. Its debut recording, Eros, was released last year on Linn, its vibrant readings of Bridge, Erőd, Ginastera and Helen Grime demonstrating why the trio is turning so many heads.

For all three musicians, the trio these days is an important and steadily strengthening part of a portfolio career (featuring orchestral jobs for Manciu and Popplewell, and other chamber playing for Degavino), essentially because, as they put it, ‘There doesn’t appear to be enough work to sustain a full-time career as one thing.’ They come together on a project basis, which, this far into the trio’s life, works well. ‘We’ve come to know what each of us thinks about certain things,’ says Degavino. ‘It doesn’t take long to form a cohesive Mithras sound on a new piece.’ They also enthuse over how their outside work enhances their trio playing. ‘Our rehearsing and performing have really changed over the years,’ says Manciu. ‘There’s all that breadth of knowledge and experience, and the ability to have an overview on music and music making.’

They relish barely plundered repertoire, especially that of the 20th century (by composers such as Babadjanian and Erőd), which they savvily juxtapose with audience-pulling biggies. Right now, they’re pairing Tailleferre and Saint-Saëns with the Beethoven ‘Archduke’. As Manciu points out, ‘Many pieces may not be well known now, but they’re very good. So with more people playing them, because there are now more piano trios, perhaps in 20 years they will have become staples.’

This is an excerpt from The Strad June 2024 feature Three’s company: the rise of piano trios. Read the full article here

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