Leonore Piano Trio
"sumptuous breadth and beguiling warmth […] Revelatory playing"
"Hard to imagine playing of a greater empathy […] The Leonores play with truly glorious affection and security"
"powerful with an expansive lush sound"
Formed in 2012, the Leonore Trio brings together three internationally acclaimed artists whose piano trio performances as part of Ensemble 360 were met with such enthusiastic responses that they decided to form a piano trio in its own right.
The Trio has since given concerts throughout the UK, Italy, Turkey, Norway (Bergen International Festival and Oslo Concert Hall), Denmark and in New Zealand. Whilst in New Zealand they played to and coached a group of young musicians as part of the Sistema Aotearoa programme, and were adjudicators of the Royal Over-Seas League New Zealand Chamber Music Competition. Their concert in Hamilton was broadcast on Radio New Zealand.
The Leonore Trio’s debut recording for Hyperion of the piano trios of Anton Arensky in March 2014. The disc received critical acclaim both nationally and internationally with praise for the Trio’s "revelatory playing" (The Observer) and “impressively wide range of timbres” (Limelight Magazine). Their follow up disc – a recording of Edouard Lalo’s piano trios – was equally well received and was chosen as BBC Radio 3 Record Review's 'Disc of the Week', and their next disc of David Matthews complete piano trios, released on Toccata Classics, was Gramophone's Editors Choice, with the composer himself describing their performances as "definitive". In January 2017, the Leonore Trio’s third disc for Hyperion was released. The trio were described as 'fine interpreters' of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Sergei Taneyev with this disc of their piano trios. A disc of Johann Peter Pixis’ Piano Trios was released in late 2017, expanding their catalogue of interesting and undiscovered works in the piano trio repertoire. Two discs of Parry Trios were released in 2019 on Hyperion, and were lauded by critics as "fresh, intelligent and strikingly stylish" (Gramophone) and "fine recordings" (BBC Record Review), followed by a disc of works by Henry Charles Litolff, which was warmly praised by critics, was in Presto Classical’s top 100 recordings of 2020, and was awarded Editor’s Choice by Gramophone for its “engaging music, played with striking advocacy from the outset, beautifully recorded”.
Recent highlights include a performance of the complete Beethoven Piano Trios at Kings Place, and an even broader long-term project, including all the works by Beethoven for piano trio, piano and violin, and piano and cello for Music in the Round in Sheffield. The Trio also returned to Istanbul’s Süreyya Opera House, Wigmore Hall, St David’s Cardiff, Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, and Sage Gateshead. Their most recent disc, released in April 2022 of Woldemar Bargiel’s Piano Trios, received five star reviews for its “gloriously vibrant performances”, “graceful, urbane playing and flowing lyricism”, and was described as ”delightful and diverting listening”. In August 2022 they gave the world premiere of Huw Watkins’ Piano Trio No. 2 at the Presteigne Festival’s 40th anniversary season.
In the current season, they perform at Wigmore Hall, Portsmouth Guildhall, and Music in the Round, and continue to record for Hyperion. They also perform Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Hallam Sinfonia in Sheffield.
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
Presteigne, August 2022
I caught two world premieres on the penultimate evening of the Festival at St Andrew’s Church where the Leonore Piano Trio gave the premieres of Huw Watkins’ Piano Trio No. 2 and Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade’s work for violin and piano Bewegt. The latter – taking its title from the German musical term for animated – took the form of a series of ‘electrical’ shocks, rhythmically punchy and dance-like, its brief span holding the ear as much for its startling animation as for its vigorous performance by violinist Benjamin Nabarro and pianist Tim Horton. Earlier, Watkins’ Piano Trio had made an arresting concert opener, with four skilfully linked movements that traversed an absorbing emotional journey within a romantic sensibility, and where no material was wasted or overworked. A wonderful piece that should be taken up by other chamber musicians. In between, Gemma Rosefield gave a rapt performance of Joseph Phibbs’ multi-movement Cello Sonata (2021), teasing out its serenity and trauma with beguiling tone. However, the evening was crowned by an immaculately balanced account of Ravel’s Piano Trio, marked by an expressive range that variously confided and sparkled, its tender pianissimos making you hold your breath. Intelligent playing such as this was nowhere better demonstrated than in this revelatory performance.
David Truslove, Wales Arts Review
Bargiel: Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2
Hyperion, released 1st April 2022
The Leonore Trio is an outstanding ensemble, whose previous releases for Hyperion have all been enthusiastically received...pianist Tim Horton, violinist Benjamin Nabarro and cellist Gemma Rosefield balance Bargiel's middle-register-dominated textures with such exquisite sensitivity and timing there is never any hint of overbalancing. This is music that by its very nature requires gentle coaxing and affectionate warmth to sound its best, and the Leonore responds with playing that possesses a radiant inner glow. Indeed, it is difficult to imagien this music played more captivatingly, captured in beguilingly natural sound by Andrew Keener and David Hinitt
Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine - performance ***** recording *****
The greater pleasure of this recording is the playing of the Leonore Trio...Gemma Rosefield's soaring cello in the second movement of Trio No. 2 is a delight, violinist Benjamin Nabarro's violin is forthright and impassioned, while Tim Horton, who certainly has his work cut out, pushes the narrative forwards with dexterity and not a little stamina. But it is the way these three talented musicians blend together that merits the largest bouquet. More please! The piano trio being such a popular medium in the 19th century, there is yet a huge forgotten repertoire waiting to be explored
Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone
Two bafflingly neglected piano trios in gloriously vibrant performances. If you’ve ever wished there was more chamber music to discover by Brahms and Robert Schumann, this is a real treat
Erica Jeal, The Guardian
In his First Trio the Leonore players bring out the mystery of the Adagio introduction and move into the surging and restless Allegro energico with vibrant tone and close attention to Bargiel's many accents, triumphantly punching out the dotted rhythms... graceful, urbane playing and flowing lyricism...There is turbulence in the opening of the E flat major Trio, to which the Leonore Trio responds with almost exaggerated phrase-shaping, the whole first movement unfolding with a grand, urgent sweep.
Tim Homfray, The Strad
Delightful and diverting listening...Whether noble, sparkling or deeply expressive, Bargiel has the means and methods to sustain his engaging creativity that withstands scrutiny and repetition, and here enjoys the services of the interactive Leonore Piano Trio, for Tim Horton (piano), Benjamin Nabarro (violin) & Gemma Rosefield relish the music’s tunefulness and emotions and make a great team...This Andrew Keener-produced, David Hinitt-engineered and Peter Avis-annotated release is a winner: music we may not be familiar with but can be damn glad to now have the opportunity to enjoy it, on Hyperion
Hyperion’s Leonore Trio raises the bar regarding forceful accents, emotional urgency, and dynamic contrast, especially in their faster, gruffer Scherzo movements.
Jed Distler, Classics Today
I called Bargiel’s F-Major Piano Trio spellbinding and haunting in its harmonically eccentric way...A sizzling fugue embedded within a cyclic-formwork caps the finale. If I could have rated this one a 10, I would have.
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare
Litolff: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2
Hyperion, released 31st January 2020
If you ever need persuading to explore the lesser-known byways of the chamber repertoire, let this album do so: engaging music, played with striking advocacy from the outset, and beautifully recorded...The Leonore Trio have made something of a habit of exploring the byways of the trio repertoire but none is moer worthwhile than this disc...Throughout the Leonore combine finesse with a palpable sense of enjoyment that is entirely engaging... [The second Trio's finale is] of lightning-quick energy, demanding the quickest of reflexes, an ear for accentuation and tremendous dexterity, all of which the Leonore deliver in spades. Add to this the simple charm of the Serenade, beguilingly played by Benjamin Nabarro, and you have a winner.
Harriet Smith, Gramophone, *Editor's Choice*
Excitable, high-octane brilliance...The Leonore Piano Trio haul these dazzling delights back into the daylight with suitably virtuosic verve
Stephen Pritchard, The Guardian
Litolff's two piano trios are worthy of revival...Both works abound with exuberance and energy, [and] the cascading runs in the Prestissimo’s rollicking finale demand the utmost agility and flexibility from performers... The group’s marvelously dovetailed interplay and crackling ensemble precision leave me breathless. Collectors drawn to the chamber repertoire’s neglected corners should snap up this thoroughly enchanting, smartly annotated, and wonderfully engineered release
Jed Distler, Classics Today
Curious listeners have reason to be thankful to labels such as Hyperion who dare to be different, especially when the music unearthed projects the unanticipated levels of quality and craftsmanship that are on display here...The joie-de-vivre of the Leonore Trio’s playing is wholly captivating and plain to hear throughout this disc, and it’s all the more enjoyable for Hyperion’s open, generous sound...Litolff has fashioned a perfectly proportioned, imaginatively melodic vehicle for a virtuosic, dynamic group and the Leonore Piano Trio do not disappoint. Both these big-hearted works benefit from their brilliant individual and collective contributions, while the heart-on-sleeve joyfulness in their playing bursts out of the speakers.
Richard Hanlon, Music-Web International
Music at Paxton
Paxton Estate, July 2019
The Leonore Trio created a gorgeous sense of unity in Mozart’s B-flat trio, the liquid cello line perfectly balancing the sparkling piano, with the violin singing at the top. Their Brahms had a gorgeous, autumnal quality, and if their Haydn was austere then the understated nobility that they brought to Beethoven’s Archduke trio was superb, especially the sensationally beautiful set of variations.
Simon Thompson, The Times ****
Brahms’s Piano Trio No 1 featured exquisite playing from Gemma Rosefield. There was perfect communication with her partners in the group in the ebb and flow of pace and dynamics in the opening movements, with much from her, and she eventually had the main melody in the powerful Adagio as well. It is the heart of the work, to which the trio brought a profound intensity, before Rosefield’s cello moved the narrative on again into the choppier waters of the deliberately ambivalent finale.
Keith Bruce, The Herald Scotland *****
Parry: Piano Trio No. 2 & Piano Quartet
Hyperion; released July 2019
The Leonores sound like they’ve lived with and loved these pieces for years: they surf the ebb and flow of Parry’s surging, often tempestuous lyricism with the same grace and style that they bring to the radiant sunset codas that close the first movements of each work … even had there been a century-long tradition of recording Parry’s chamber music, I suspect this would still shoot straight to the top of the heap. Lovers of English music needn’t hesitate.
Richard Bratby, Gramophone
Every bit as good and rewarding as the first...The expansive opening movement (from Maestoso to Allegro con fuoco) drips with rich expression and deep feelings, driven by an undercurrent of raw emotion, and also with tender withdrawals to an inner sanctum.
Colin Anderson, Classical Source *****
A good piece [the Piano Quartet] to play to anyone who accuses Parry of being second-rate Brahms, especially in this urgently propelled performance from the Leonore Piano Trio with viola player Rachel Roberts … I've enjoyed the Leonore's Parry recordings this year a great deal; fine recordings, both of them.
BBC Record Review
Particularly moving in this sympathetic and eloquent account by the Leonore Piano Trio…this is an album to spend time with and relish as one’s familiarity with this music grows in performances which capture the genial warmth as well as the seriousness of this great but gently spoken composer.
Daniel Jaffe, BBC Music Magazine - performance *****, recording ****
The Leonores are wise and generous interpreters...This makes a fine companion to their recording of the First and Third Trios.
Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
This Piano Trio is a highly impressive composition and it’s marvellously played by the Leonore Trio... I admired the Leonore Trio’s first Parry CD very much and this follow-up release is just as good. Parry’s music could not be in better hands.
John Quinn, MusicWeb International
The Leonore Piano Trio are joined by Rachel Roberts on the viola, and play with infectious zeal, injecting vim and vigour into the music...The finale provides a zestful tour-de-force for the ensemble, and these players certainly don't disappoint...Graced with a plush-sounding recording, the Leonore Piano Trio with Rachel Roberts offer incandescent readings which will win over many to these captivating scores.
Stephen Greenbank, MusicWeb International
The playing, from the Leonore Piano Trio, is absolutely first-rate, and shows a complete empathy with the style, nowhere more so than in the charmingly idyllic Lento slow movement, an absolute joy to listen to...heartfelt, melodious music and attractive harmony, which is well-crafted and beautifully written.
Phillip R Buttall, MusicWeb International
Nottingham Chamber Music Festival
Nottingham Theatre Royal, July 2019
A glowingly passionate opening to Nottingham’s Chamber Music Festival...the Leonore Trio used their virtuosity and insight to bring out the individuality in Parry’s musical personality. Yes, there was plenty of Brahms, Mendelssohn and Schumann in the mix – but the Trio’s handling of the opening movement’s urgency as well as the effervescent scherzo, the expansively lyrical slow movement and quirkily exhilarating finale will have made those present scratch their heads and wonder why this music isn’t better known.
William Ruff, Reviewsgate *****
Leamington Music Festival
Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington Spa; May 2019
Super Saturday reached exalted heights with the welcome return of the Leonore Piano Trioplaying the Arensky Trio No. 1 in D minor Op. 32, unquestionably a masterpiece, at times a very elegant dialogue between instruments... Leonore continued the Schubert trail with a powerfully convincing delivery of Trio No. 1 in B flat D898, an exhausting, full-blooded venture; an astonishing performance happily exhausting many in the audience.
Parry: Piano Trios Nos 1 & 3
Hyperion Records, released 1 February 2019
An outstanding release... Hats off to the Leonore Piano Trio, which launches into the opening bars of the E minor Trio (no. 1) with a soaring potency and impassioned eloquence... Tim Horton makes the most of the swirling piano textures as violinist Benjamin Nabarro and cellist Gemma Rosefield thrillingly match their bowing intensity and fast/narrow vibratos, to create an extraordinary sense of music arriving hot off the press... [In the third trio] the Leonore players respond with a fervent spontaneity that grips the attention from first note to last.
Julian Haylock, The Strad
You’ll be purring with satisfaction at this exemplary new release from the Leonore Piano Trio...these performances feel fully matured – fresh, intelligent and strikingly stylish; edgy when they need to be and opening out generously when Parry’s romantic impulse demands it.
Richard Bratby, Gramophone
The Leonore Trio give both works with ripe timbres and passion, meticulous in ensemble and intonation. They’re equally convincing in the early Partita, for violin and piano.
Stephen Pettitt, The Times
There is a great deal to delight the listener... The Leonore Piano Trio's winsome performance of the scherzo has made me return with pleasure to this altogether attractive work... The Leonore Piano Trio play the work with affection, as does Benjamin Nabarro and Tim Horton the Partita in D Minor.
Daniel Jaffe, BBC Music Magazine
This is a richly rewarding disc which I enjoyed from start to finish. The playing of the members of the Leonore Piano Trio is expert and highly committed. This is very worthwhile music anyway but they make the best possible case for it. The recorded sound is excellent, as are Jeremy Dibble’s notes. I believe that a recording of Parry’s Second Piano Trio will be forthcoming from these artists in due course. I look forward to that very much.
John Quinn, MusicWeb International
Plenty of passion... emotional drive and sensitive asides vie with one another [in the E-minor Piano Trio], locked into a concise first-movement symphonic design, played with conviction and oneness by the Leonore members. There follows a very lively Molto vivace, air-filled with Mendelssohnian lightness, the Trio section and the Trio players generously expressive. The heart of the piece is an eloquent and intimate Adagio and the Finale (Allegro giocoso) skips along uninhibitedly.
Colin Anderson, Classical Source *****
Colour-conscious, energising and subtle playing of Benjamin Nabarro, Gemma Rosefield and Tim Horton.
Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
These are charming works, given well-deserved - and well-crafted - performances here...Parry's Third Piano Trio forms the heart of the disc and in it we hear a sophisticated handling of the genre...a worthwhile and overdue recording.
Angus McPherson, Limelight Magazine ****
Ilkley Concert Club
King's Hall Ilkley, October 2018
These players know each other inside out… Tim Horton managed the intricate piano lines with his usual lightness of touch with Benjamin Nabarro (violin) and Gemma Rosefield (cello) giving strong support, especially in the stormier passages of the third movement, which they took at a cracking pace… the players excelled in a magnificent rendition of Beethoven’s Archduke trio
Chris Skidmore, Ilkley Gazette
Pixis: Piano Trios
Hyperion Records, released 29th December 2017
They give an energetic account of the opening movement of the First Trio, which is infectious stuff – not just in terms of its catchy main theme but also the way it is decorated with delicious roulades on the piano. They enjoy the folkish elements of the second movement’s main theme, which is adroitly developed by Pixis to charming effect. The piano once again leads the way in the introduction to the finale … which lets rip in an effervescent Presto, with a chattering interplay between the strings, culminating in a prestissimo coda that demands from the pianist an easy brilliance which Tim Horton has in spades. … The dashing Scherzo is a highlight, while the way Pixis has the strings sing their melody over rippling piano accompaniment gives the Trio a yearning quality. The jack-in-a-box finale springs into life, its ‘Moorish’ melody deliciously inauthentic, and again the Leonore give a spirited reading.
Harriet Smith, Gramophone
There is Beethoven-like power here with the piano taking a melodic lead… The members of the Leonore Piano Trio rightly concentrate on the inherent optimism for the quieter melodies are too innocent to be sentimentalised and the straightforwardness of the reading makes for an ideal approach… Tim Horton’s considerable skill certainly enhances its value.
Antony Hodgson, Classical Source *****
If, as seems likely, these are the first and only recordings of these works, we should be grateful that they are so good. The Leonore Trio, whose forte would seem to be the unsung trio repertoire, are as at home here as they were with their earlier recordings of Romantic fare such as Lalo, Arensky and Rimsky-Korsakov.
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