Coffee Concert 18th December 2016 – Review by Richard Amey, Worthing Herald

Bonus trailer appearance: Sean Shibe (guitar): Walton, the first of his 5 Bagatelles. Ahead of appearing in the next Coffee Concert, on January 29.

Were Trio Isimsiz a holiday destination the brochures would be describing them as their country’s ‘best-kept secret’. As a strikingly identifiable young ensemble with Turkish name which conversely means ‘Trio Anonymous’ or ‘Trio Unnamed’, their second Coffee Concert established that the Brighton Dome and Strings Attached Society share a new musical secret.

Trio Isimsiz’ return sparked keen anticipation, amply rewarded by another performance of sensitivity and intensity. But there were elements adding to the intrigue. Although naming the Trio Isimsiz members, there was only a two-sentence paragraph of information about the ensemble in Brighton Dome’s concert leaflet, including words which had not been updated to say that Beethoven had replaced Schumann on the menu. But there was another super contribution from programme notes writer Chris Darwin.

And as both halves of the programme concluded, the house lights came up early, almost as if to protect the Isimsiz from perhaps a third curtain call and possibly an encore. This is an audience that seeks to connect with its guest musicians and these two things acted almost as a deterrent.

The audience has become a Sunday morning family waiting to adopt new members. When The Dome’s Andrew Comben announced to them last month that Cerys Jones had left Heath Quartet, there was no quizzical ‘Who’s he?’ in reaction to the departure of Heath’s second violinist to concentrate more on motherhood: there was a palpable sense of loss.

Inclusively bearing four national bloods, Isimsiz would pose to a tourist brochure description a categorisation difficulty. Cellist Michael Petrov is Bulgarian, Pablo Hernán Benedi a Spaniard from Madrid and pianist Erdem Misirlioğlu is from Ipswich with an English mother and a Turkish father. See their highly amusing introductory video from YCAT (Young Classical Artistes Trust) on the internet and have your expectations of their personalities as chamber musicians dismantled in a way reminiscent of The Beatles’ early interviews.

Trio Isimsiz had residencies at Aldeburgh and Salzburg Mozarteum and last year won both the First and Audience Prizes at the Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition in Norway. They had not gravitated naturally towards one another at Guildhall School of Music but were pitched together by their instrumental teachers into a melting pot that is seriously starting to simmer.

Soccer fan Petrov, 26, son of a jazz musician, was at The Menuhin School, a star of his final Guildhall year, made his mark in competitions, recitals in Europe and the US, and concerto performances with top London orchestras. Benedi, 25, and Alina Ibragimova are violinists in the Chiaroscuro String Quartet and the Academy of Ancient Music. And Misirlioğlu, 27, who learned piano by playing pop songs, won the 2008 BBC Young Musician of the Year Pianist section, then studied with Martin Roscoe and Rona O’Hora and drew from Lang Lang the tribute ‘(he creates) such a special sound’.

Together, with the string players’ heads bobbing in time, they gave us a Haydn performance lithe and shapely that landed like a cheeky smile, with a lightly-spooned hint of theatre in the middle movement, and an often boisterous finale of sparkling characterisation. They then leapt forward in time for a Faure delivered with concentrated flavouring that was sometimes almost nonchalantly enigmatic, dreamy and free.

And if any doubts remained to be allayed, their Beethoven did so. The way they won at Trondheim with The Archduke Trio augured well (see it on YouTube). Their opening Allegro was projected with explosive energy, and continued like an audible light show or a firework display in sound, with eruptions offset by fountains of sweetness. Their pianissimos shimmered and transfixed the ear in both outer movements.

And in the middle one, familiarly nicknamed The Ghost – the composer probably responding once again to the mysterious and threatening in Shakespeare – that dimension came into its own with the creation of such sustained and variety of suspense by the Isimsiz that it would have ensured that Beethoven passed his audition to score the music for Hitchcock’s next thriller.