Edward Bhesania spends the afternoon of New Year’s Eve 2023 at London’s Wigmore Hall for some Haydn and Tchaikovsky 


A New Year’s Eve treat from the Leonore. Photo: Wigmore Hall Trust 2023

Playing Haydn, said pianist Tim Horton after the Leonore Piano Trio had opened this Sunday Morning Concert with the composer’s Piano Trio in A major, Hob.XV/18, ‘is the best thing in the world’. He was clearly speaking for all three players, whose performance was underpinned by elegance, playfulness, sparkle, a range of articulation and mock comic-opera drama. More than being simply lively, the playing was boldly alive, and not only in the quicker music: the musicians struck a perfectly paced Andante in the slow movement, which in some hands might have seemed audaciously slow, but that allowed the music to breathe spaciously.

The players imbued Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio with an aptly monumental scale, bringing alive its bold Romantic passion and distinctively Russian inflection. Far from sprawling, the first movement sounded unusually concentrated and cast a mesmerising hush over the audience at its close. The huge theme-and-variation second movement opened with a theme of simple, folk-like innocence. The scherzo-like Variation 3, super-pearlescent, was followed by a richly dark and unmistakably Slavic Variation 4 and, later, by an elegant quick waltz in Variation 6. Horton brought magically rippling arpeggios to Variation 9, as well as crisp capriciousness to the ensuing mazurka variation. It was a hugely committed, triumphant performance from all concerned.