I’ve seen Robert Pomakov and the Gryphon Trio perform together a few times now and it’s always interesting. Today’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was no exception. Four of Mozart’s concert arias for bass and orchestra, arranged for string trio by Bohdana Frolyak, were interspersed with movements of Heather Schmidt’s Lunar Reflections; a 2008 piece commissioned by the Gryphons inspired by the moon in different seasons of the year. It was stimulating. The concert arias (K.432, K.513, K.512 and K.612) all showcase the bass voice with tectonic low notes and plenty of opportunity for virtuosity. I think they suited Robert pretty well. He’s perhaps not the most subtle of singers but he’s exciting (and loud!) and the trio accompaniment provided so much more than piano alone could.
The Schmidt piece was also enjoyable. It’s fairly approachable and the five movements are quite varied. The first two; Blue Moon and Pink Moon, are quite lyrical, even lush in a slightly post romantic sort of way then comes Wolf Moon which is in an altogether darker place; slower, louder and more dissonant with lots of work for the low notes on the cello. Snow Moon continues in a slower, somewhat dissonant vein but is much lighter textured and the piece concludes quite violently with the aggressive and abrasive Thunder Moon which puts serious demands on all three players but especially the piano. Unsurprisingly, I feel I’ve probably not done this piece justice. I find I need to hear work of this kind more than once to fully appreciate it.