"Is there a better trio than the Florestan playing today?"
---BBC Music Magazine
MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-One of England's brightest stars on the chamber music scene, the Florestan Trio, plans a Vermont concert of selections by Haydn, Schubert and Smetana at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 13, in the Middlebury College Center for the Arts Concert Hall.
Together since 1995, violinist Anthony Marwood, cellist Richard Lester and pianist Susan Tomes have dazzled audiences worldwide with both their live performances and their impressive list of recordings. In 2000, the ensemble was the first piano trio to win Britain's Royal Philharmonic Society Award for chamber music.
Their recordings on the Hyperion label have received numerous nominations for Gramophone awards as well as the 1999 Gramophone chamber music award for a recording of trios by Schumann. Subsequent recordings have been welcomed with high praise. Upon release of a disc of Schubert's E-flat Trio, The Times of London wrote: "Clear the decks for paradise. Lock the doors, unplug the phone. Bliss awaits." The Florestan's most recent work in the recording studio is a collection of all of the Beethoven piano trios for Hyperion. A reviewer for The Strad, a magazine for string instrument players, had this to say about Volume 1: "The Florestan have made some truly remarkable records, but this may be their finest yet."
The trio is a regular guest at the United Kingdom's chamber festivals and performs regularly at London's principal concert halls and around Europe. Recent tours have taken the group to South America, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. They debuted in the United States in 2002 with the Grand Rapids Symphony and make their return this year.
This summer will mark the trio's sixth year presenting its own chamber music festival at Peasmarsh in East Sussex, England. The festival is the work of The Florestan Trust, a charitable organization the trio founded to develop public awareness and appreciation of music through concerts, educational projects, and the commissioning of new works.
Each of the Florestan artists has a busy schedule apart from the trio, appearing as soloists and guest recitalists with other chamber ensembles and orchestras as well as participating in British and international festivals. Lester is the principal cellist with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Violinist Marwood has made more than 20 recordings outside of the Florestan Trio. Pianist Tomes is particularly prolific in her craft, having made more than 40 CDs of solo, duo and chamber music. She performs and records with the Gaudier Ensemble and plays duos with numerous distinguished artists, such as Stephen Isserlis, Thomas Riebl and Marwood. The first woman to study music at King's College in Cambridge, Tomes was a founder of the award-winning ensemble Domus, which toured worldwide and recorded much of the chamber music repertoire for piano quartet. Lester was also part of that group, whose disbanding in 1995 led to the creation of the Florestan Trio.
And the Florestan's name? The trio says it borrowed from one of Schumann's imaginary alter egos; in his diaries, the composer referred to himself in an optimistic mood as "Florestan."
The performance is sponsored by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series.
Reserved seating tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for seniors. A pre-performance dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. at Rehearsals Cafe in the Center for the Arts on South Main Street (Route 30). Reservations are required. For information, tickets or dinner reservations, call the College Box Office at 802-443-6433, or visit the College's Web site at www.middlebury.edu/arts.
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