This 6 CD box-set brings together the complete Piano Trios, Quartets and Sextets by Brahms performed by the Gould Piano Trio with guest
artists. Both versions of the Piano Trio No 1 are included in this set: the original version, written in his twenties, and the version he revised at the age of 56. When CHR recorded the Brahms Piano Quartets with the Goulds in 2016, we thought it would be a brilliant idea to unite them with the Gould’s earlier Trio recordings of 2004/5 (originally released on Quartz, pre-dating the existence of Champs Hill Records), and to add the Kirchner Brahms- approved sextet arrangements; making an ideal six-CD ‘box-set’ of some of Brahms’ most luxurious chamber music from some of the most experienced and acclaimed Brahms chamber musicians.
Rob has tirelessly pursued a particular passion for British clarinet music in concert and on disc, his Gramophone Award winning account of Finzi’s Concerto and Gramophone Award-shortlisted Bax Sonatas being just two of a large collection of recordings of works by the great English Romantics. He has performed and recorded with the Gould Piano Trio for over twenty five years, and their recording of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time to mark the composer’s centenary was hailed by BBC Music Magazine as the ‘finest modern recording’ of this epic masterpiece. He also appears on the Goulds’ recorded cycles of Beethoven and Brahms Trios and makes regular tours to the USA with them. They commissioned Huw Watkins to compose ‘Four Fables’ for them in 2018 in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival which they direct together in Northumberland. He looks forward to collaborating with the Elias String Quartet in Bliss’ Clarinet Quintet in 2020 and 2021.
Rob has explored the clarinet quintet repertoire with a number of the finest string quartets, opening BBC Radio 3’s ‘Brahms Experience’ with a live broadcast from St. George’s Bristol of the Brahms Quintet with the Skampa Quartet. He has given concerts in Germany and the USA with the Mandelring Quartet and at home in the UK with the Maggini, Carducci, Tippett, Brodsky, Dante and Sacconi Quartets. Rob has enjoyed a 25 year long relationship with the Royal Over-Seas League since winning the competition’s Gold Medal in 1992, highlights of which have included a recital tour of New Zealand and a gala performance of Bruch’s Double Concerto with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka in Colombo as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
Always keen to take on a challenge, Rob gave his first performance of Boulez’s ‘Dialogue de l’ombre double’ at the Belfast Sonorities Festival in 2018, a work he subsequently revived in Manchester’s Stoller Hall in 2019. His delving into unjustly neglected works has unearthed concertos by Iain Hamilton, Ruth Gipps and Richard Walthew which he subsequently recorded at Glasgow City Halls with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins. The resulting disc, ‘Reawakened’, was released by Champs Hill Records in July 2020. ‘Contrasts’, a disc of Hungarian repertoire for the same label, was praised by the Guardian as ‘a little gem’ on its release last year.
Rob is principal clarinet of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and has held the same position with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Royal Northern Sinfonia. He was recently appointed Head of Woodwind Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
The Gould Piano Trio, recently compared to the great Beaux Arts Trio for its “musical fire” and dedication to the genre in The Washington Post, has remained at the forefront of the international chamber music scene for well over twenty years. Launched by its first prize at the Melbourne Chamber Music Competition and subsequently selected as YCAT Artists, it toured in Europe and the USA as “Rising Stars” and made a highly successful debut at the Weill Recital Hall, described by Strad Magazine as “Pure Gould”. The trio’s appearances at London’s Wigmore Hall include the complete piano trios by Dvorak and Schubert and in the 2017–18 season a Beethoven cycle. At St George’s, Bristol, it performed and recorded these trios live for SOMM Records, arguably the pinnacle of the trio repertoire.
Its discography not only includes the renowned masterpieces of the repertoire but also many hidden gems, brought to life through an ongoing collaboration with clarinettist Robert Plane.
Trio cycles by Hummel (Naxos), Dvorak (Champs Hill Records) and Brahms have been complemented by the late romantic works of Charles Villiers Stanford, John Ireland, Robin Milford, Cyril Scott and Arnold Bax many of which are in world premiere recordings. A disc of contemporary works by Peter Maxwell Davies, Sally Beamish and James MacMillan (Champs Hill Records) was released in 2015 helping to bring contemporary British music to an international public.
Through its annual festivals in Corbridge, now in its nineteenth year, and Cardiff at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, where the trio is Artist in Residence and recently were made Fellows, the Gould Piano Trio takes inspiration from playing a wide range of chamber music with colleagues in Oxford, and coaching aspiring young ensembles. Giving masterclasses at Dartington Hall and Aldeburgh have been rewarding ways of passing on their years of experience.
The trio has been given the opportunity, as Artistic Directors of the 2017–18 Leeds International Chamber Season, to curate a series of six concerts using invited artists as well as themselves to perform works from pre- Revolutionary Russia.
The Trio has been keen to commission new works: James MacMillan’s Piano Trio No.2, premiered to much acclaim at the Bath International Festival in 2014, Simon Rowland-Jones’ Piano Trio No.2 Eidfjord in 2016, a new trio from Mark Simpson After Avedon, and a clarinet quartet by Huw Watkins.
The Trio is delighted that the Simpson, being part of the PRS Beyond Borders scheme, has been chosen for the New Music Biennial in Hull (and at the South Bank in London) as part of the City of Culture celebrations in 2017, a fitting way to mark the 25th anniversary of this renowned ensemble the Gould Piano Trio.