Photo by Emily Brown
Paddock Wood Proms at St. Andrews 2023
Review by Christopher Woodley in the Tunbridge Wells Courier
Dazzling performances at Proms
Local piano trio Tier3 ended their third season of Paddock Wood Proms, at St. Andrew’s Church, with dazzling performances of Mozart and Tchaikovsky. The well-attended concert brought down the curtain on a hugely entertaining programme of summer music. During the three-week long season audiences were treated to excellent performances of established master-works, including Beethoven’s Ghost, Dvořák’s Dumky, and Haydn’s Gypsy, alongside well-known repertoire pieces by Martinu, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninov. A rare outing was given to the delightful trio by Johann Peter Pixis, and there were three excellent pieces by young composers Prach Boondiskulchok and Farhad Poupel. The evening ended with a standing ovation for Tier3.
There can be no doubt that Tier3 – pianist Daniel Grimwood, violinist Joseph Wolfe, and cellist Jonathan Ayling – are a class act. Out of the lockdowns of the pandemic has emerged as an ensemble with an eloquent and elegant style of playing. Each of the musicians rises to their own particular strengths: Grimwood’s sure-fingered pianism is by turns crystal-clear, delicate, and full-blooded; Wolfe’s gestures are both delicate and passionate; and Ayling’s sense of colour and tone underpins the sonorous warmth which is the group’s emerging trademark sound. It is often said that there is no substitute for experience - that is the case with Tier3. Their years on the international stage, playing with other world-class performers, was clearly to be seen in the diverse repertoire of Paddock Wood Proms.
For this member of the audience there were many memorable moments. Grimwood’s performance of Bach’s glorious Goldberg Variations was achingly beautiful. In the finale of Haydn’s Gypsy Trio, Wolfe’s playing captured exactly the wild passion of the Hungarian gypsy music on which the piece is based. The voice of Ayling’s cello in the dying moments of Mendelssohn’s first cello sonata was serenity itself, and the expressive performance of the slow movement of Schubert’s second trio was all tears of joy. It was great to hear very well-moulded renditions of the Shostakovich trios. In particular, the rush of blood that fires-up the central movement of the second trio showed the demonic side of Tier3’s playing.
That demonic side was again to the fore for a gripping performance of Farhad Poupel’s Prelude and Demonic Waltz, one of the pieces on the programme for the final concert. Poupel is a composer of great promise, with a fine sense of musical form, an ear sensitive to the nuances of tone and colour in chamber music, and an easy facility with dramatic gestures. It is a mark of Tier3’s spirit of adventure that Paddock Wood Proms can encourage new and emerging talent alongside superb performances of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. Long may it last.