It was billed as “Beethoven’s Trio” but the trio the audience at the Omega Ensemble’s season opener got was not the one they were expecting. Instead of the ‘Gassenhauer’, David Rowden, Clemens Leske and Paul Stender gave us the Op. 38 arrangement for clarinet, piano and cello that Beethoven himself made of his Op. 20 Septet. And no one had reason to feel short-changed either with six movements – many of them Beethoven at his catchiest – instead of three, even though we didn’t get the final “tune they whistle in alleyways” that gave the ‘Gassenhauer’ trio its nickname.
It was the curtain closer on a varied and highly enjoyable launch of Omega’s intimate Master Series in Sydney Opera House’s Utzon Room. Rowden described the three works on the program as ground-breaking – a piano trio arrangement of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, in which the enfant terrible is bidding a fond farewell to Wagner while making tentative moves towards a new harmonic sound world, and Mendelssohn’s First Piano Trio, which forms the perfect bridge between the trios of Beethoven and Schubert and the late romantics who take up the mantle.