An evening of chamber music at the Berlin Konzerthaus provided a fascinating look at the differences between classical and modern era trios written for piano, cello and flute. With Silvia Careddu playing flute, Friedemann Ludwig on the cello and Anna Kirichenko at the piano, the program of Haydn, Weber, Villa-Lobos and Martinů sparkled in the Konzerthaus’s Kleiner Saal.

Built for chamber music, the concert hall is all gilded chandeliers and peach and blue walls, a jewel box of a venue. Careddu, Ludwig and Kirichenko opened the evening with Haydn’s Piano Trio no. 29 in G major. Haydn’s music is clean and cool, a fine wine rather than Champagne. The trio was well-played, with not a note out of place, yet the elegance of the music seemed slightly forced, as though longing to break convention and veer into directions that Haydn didn’t dare approach. It was a relief to enter the wilder and more Romantic world of Carl Maria von Weber. His Trio for flute, cello and piano in G minor, Op.63, invokes images of rippling brooks and moonlight rambles through the woods.

It was from the eras of elegance and romance to that of modernity that Careddu, Ludwig and Kirichenko leapt, beginning the second half of their programme with Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Assobio a jato for Flute and Cello. Kirichenko acted as assistant to Careddu, turning the pages of her sheet music while the flautist bravely piped what seemed to be an invocation to the gods of British crime drama soundtracks. Modern music can be glaringly unlovely; this was not the case with Villa-Lobos. The music seems to have served as the grandfather of the soundtracks for “Midsommer Murders” and Agatha Christie’s “Miss Marple”: quaint, mysterious and a little unusual. Cariddu played with aplomb and spirit, Ludwig with a seriousness that matched the music’s attitude of importance. His heavy breathing to the music was rather distracting, as was Kirichenko’s habit of completely blocking Cariddu as she turned the page for her, but ultimately the music got the better of these minor annoyances.

For the last piece, Martinů’s Flute Trio, Kirichenko returned to the piano for music that was technically flawless. It careered around the room, pounding and swooping, slightly strange on the ears after the ease of the first three pieces. One wonders what Haydn or Weber would have thought of it.

Credit must be given to the performers for not becoming distracted by an outbreak of talking in the gallery during the Martinů, though the audience was consumed by shushing sounds. The Kleiner Saal, as its name denotes, is not a large room, and its acoustics are excellent. It would have been simple to stop the performance and say something pointed, but though they frowned, the trio carried on making music and won a long ovation for their troubles. This was a well-played recital, presenting music from a range of periods, proving that good chamber music can exist in the modern as well as the classical world.

***11