REVIEW: Herschel Trio at Ripon Cathedral

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The Herschel trio comprises Graham O’Sullivan on baroque flute, Mie Hayashi harpsichord and Susanna Pell on Viola da gamba, as a trio they specialise in 18th century chamber music.

As is usual the concert took place in the Quire of the cathedral and was ideal for the baroque music to be played. There was a full house which is always good.

The music was from three German composers: Telemann. Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach. The oncert was one of the most enjoyable I have been to for some time: it was the combination of instruments, the music they played and the setting.

The instruments by their nature can be played softly, particularly the harpsichord and we were bathed in this beautiful gentle music.

About the viola da gamba: Susanna Pell took time out to introduce us to this unusual instrument. On first glance it looks like a cello. It’s about the size of a cello, but has no spike to support it so she balances it on her legs and it also has seven strings and she bows it as the double bass players do. Its tone was quite different almost like a woodwind instrument.

As for the purpose of the concert, the music, we started with Telemann’s Trio in A minor – a fine composition with the flute initially very much to the fore and the viola de gamba and harpsichord following.

It was here that I felt the Viola de Gamba sounded quite like a woodwind instrument, very pleasing. After the interval a further Telemann composition, his Suite in D minor. It has delightful musicality with the flute leading and harpsichord gently in the background, quite fascinating.

We then had a solo performance on the harpsichord of Handel’s aria from his opera Rinaldo, y lovely. Finally JS Bach Trio Sonata in G major with the three instruments involved. It was typical of Bach’s style. The Herschel Trio are excellent musicians and one could feel the cameradie between them. I enjoyed their performance and I felt it was one of the most enjoyable concerts I have been to.