Gould Piano Trio, Corbridge Chamber Music Festival

Gould Piano Trio

Lucy Gould, violin, Richard Lester, cello, Benjamin Frith, piano

The Gould Piano Trio, directly compared to the great Beaux Arts Trio for their “musical fire” and “dedication to the genre” in the Washington Post, have remained at the forefront of the international chamber music scene for a quarter of a Century.

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    Launched by their first prize at the Melbourne Chamber Music Competition, they were “Rising Stars”, making a highly successful debut at New York’s Weill Recital Hall, described by Strad Magazine as “Pure Gould.”

    Their many appearances at London’s Wigmore Hall have included the complete piano trios of Dvorak, Mendelssohn and Schubert - plus in the 2017-18 season, a Beethoven cycle, to celebrate 25 years since their first appearance at this iconic venue.

    Commissioning and performing new works is an important part of the trio’s philosophy of staying creative and freshly inspired. Sir James MacMillan’s 2nd Piano Trio was written for them in 2014 and premiered at the Bath International Festival that season. 2017 featured the Goulds in the Hull “City of Culture” celebration, performing former BBC Young Musician, Mark Simpson’s “After Avedon” as part of the PRS “New Music Biennial.”

    Their annual Corbridge Chamber Music Festival, with Robert Plane, 20th Anniversary was celebrated with a commission from Huw Watkins, his ‘Four Fables’, for Clarinet and Piano Trio, the ensemble made famous by Messiaen in his ‘Quartet for the End of Time’- also part of their discography with Plane.

    Their extensive tours of N. America, the Far East, New Zealand, and Europe are interspersed with masterclasses to nurture the next generation, for instance at the Britten- Pears Young Artist Programme, at Snape and Darlington Summer School.

    In addition to their highly praised recordings of the standard works, the trio have thrown light on neglected gems from the late romantic British repertoire for Naxos and Chandos, including C.V. Stanford’s and John Ireland’s piano trios, plus works by Bax, Milford, York Bowen and Cyril Scott. Just released is a recording of Northumbrian composer, John Casken’s piano trio, with his ‘Shadowed Pieces’ for violin and piano, included on the new recording, ‘Stolen Airs’. Future plans include a new recording on Resonus Classics of American twentieth Century works- the somewhat French inspired piano trios of Amy Beach and Rebecca Clarke together with that of Charles Ives’ vivid but sometimes distorted reimagining of his own east coast popular culture.

    The Gould’s festival appearances in 2020 include ‘Fables and Fugues’ at Lake District Summer Music in August, a presentation for piano trio, clarinet and solo dancer( Kenji Wilkie), combining a choreographed performance of Huw Watkins ‘Four Fables’, interspersed with Bach’s ‘Art of Fugue.’The trio begin 2020 with a tour of America’s north west coast.


Robert Plane, Corbridge Chamber Music Festival

Robert Plane


Robert Plane’s hugely varied career has seen concerto appearances in Europe, Asia and the USA, with performances of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto in Madrid with the City of London Sinfonia, Beijing with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and in the USA with the Virginia Symphony. He made his BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011 with Simon Holt’s double concerto ‘Centauromachy’.

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    Exploring a wide range of repertoire and commissioning new works, highlights of past seasons have included Piers Hellawell’s Agricolas with the Ulster Orchestra and RTE Symphony Orchestra, Finzi with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Christian Jost with the Dortmunder Philharmoniker and Stanford with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

    Rob has tirelessly pursued a particular passion for British clarinet music in concert and on disc, his Gramophone Award winning account of Finzi’s Concerto and Gramophone Award-shortlisted Bax Sonatas being just two of a large collection of recordings of works by the great English Romantics. He has performed and recorded with the Gould Piano Trio for over twenty five years, and their recording of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time to mark the composer’s centenary was hailed by BBC Music Magazine as the ‘finest modern recording’ of this epic masterpiece. He also appears on the Goulds’ recorded cycles of Beethoven and Brahms Trios and makes regular tours to the USA with them. They commissioned Huw Watkins to compose ‘Four Fables’ for them in 2018 in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival which they direct together in Northumberland. He looks forward to collaborating with the Elias String Quartet in Bliss’ Clarinet Quintet in 2020.

    Rob has explored the clarinet quintet repertoire with a number of the finest string quartets, opening BBC Radio 3’s ‘Brahms Experience’ with a live broadcast from St. George’s Bristol of the Brahms Quintet with the Skampa Quartet. He has given concerts in Germany and the USA with the Mandelring Quartet and at home in the UK with the Maggini, Carducci, Tippett, Brodsky, Dante and Sacconi Quartets. Rob has enjoyed a 25 year long relationship with the Royal Over-Seas League since winning the competition’s Gold Medal in 1992, highlights of which have included a recital tour of New Zealand and a gala performance of Bruch’s Double Concerto with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka in Colombo as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

    Always keen to take on a challenge, Rob gave his first performance of Boulez’s ‘Dialogue de l’ombre double’ at the Belfast Sonorities Festival in 2018, a work he revived in Manchester’s Stoller Hall in 2019. His delving into unjustly neglected works has unearthed concertos by Iain Hamilton, Ruth Gipps and Richard Walthew which he recorded, for Champs Hill Records, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. A disc of Hungarian repertoire for this same label, ‘Contrasts’, including the premiere recording of Tibor Serly’s Chamber Folk Music, was praised by the Guardian as ‘a little gem’ on its release last year.

    Rob is principal clarinet of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and has held the same position with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Royal Northern Sinfonia.


Lucy Gould, Corbridge Chamber Music Festival

Lucy Gould


Lucy is violinist and founder member of the Gould Piano Trio. Several international awards, a busy schedule and an impressive discography (core repertoire, lesser known works and commissions) are a testament to Lucy’s dedication to this genre throughout her distinguished career.

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    Lucy studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London and Indiana University, Bloomington with Gyorgy Pauk and Josef Gingold. In addition, masterclasses with Andras Schiff, Menahem Pressler and members of the Amadeus String Quartet at Prussia Cove and the Banff Centre for the Arts were a source of great inspiration in her early days. She enjoys all aspects of the repertoire, having performed sonatas with Leon McCawley and Benjamin Frith, clarinet trios with Robert Plane, horn trios with David Pyatt, Richard Watkins and Alec Frank-Gemmill and chamber music of all shapes and sizes with many of the leading artists in this field at festivals in the UK and abroad.

    Lucy is a regular guest leader of various different UK orchestras and holds the position of principal 2nd violin with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. She teaches at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.

Richard Lester, Corbridge Chamber Music Festival

Richard Lester


Leading chamber-musician, solo-cellist, orchestral principal and renowned teacher, Richard Lester was a member of the award-winning Florestan Trio, a founder-member of the ensemble Domus and has been a member of Hausmusik and the London Haydn Quartet. Equally at home on both period instruments and ‘modern’, he was for many years principal with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He has been principal cello with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe since 1989.

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    He has performed concertos under conductors such as Sandor Vegh, Claudio Abbado, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paavo Berglund, Myung Whun Chung and Sir Roger Norrington and has also appeared as director and soloist with COE, OAE, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Aurora Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, and Les Violons du Roy.

    Together with violinist Anthony Marwood, Richard Lester is co-director of the highly successful annual Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival in East Sussex. He has made over forty discs of chamber music, winning a host of accolades. His recordings of the complete works of Mendelssohn for cello and piano, and a disc of Boccherini sonatas on period instruments, are both available on Hyperion.

    Richard Lester teaches at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School in London.

Benjamin Frith, Corbridge Chamber Music Festival

Benjamin Frith


Life student of Dame Fanny Waterman, Benjamin Frith won the Dudley National Concerto Competition at age fourteen, performing Saint-Saens 2nd Piano Concerto, subsequently making his recital debut at the Harrogate International Festival. His many awards culminated in joint top prize at the Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano, then in 1989, the Gold Medal at the Artur Rubinstein Piano Master’s Competition, where he was also awarded the special prize for Chamber Music.

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    Many engagements with world renowned orchestras followed, such as IPO (Mehta), Warsaw Philharmonic (Atzmon) and later the Halle under John Wilson and Sir Mark Elder and recital tours from India, Kazakhstan, Israel and Egypt to the Far East and North America. He soon made recording contracts with ASV, then with Naxos, for whom he made a best-selling John Field Concerto Cycle with the Royal Northern Sinfonia. His solo recording of Schumann’s highly personal Davidsbundler op. 6 received the top recommendation on Radio Three’s programme, “Building a Library”.

    During the latter half of his career there has been a concentration on the chamber repertoire, principally as pianist in the Gould Piano Trio, which has made regular tours to N. America being described recently in the Washington Post as ‘near musical perfection’. He has also formed the enterprising Frith Piano Quartet with cellist Richard Jenkinson and been the guest pianist of such illustrious ensembles as the Elias, Emperor, Endellion, Chilingarian, Wihan and Dante quartets.

    Recent releases include the 2nd Piano Concerto of C.V.Stanford with BBCNOW coupled with his Dante Rhapsodies for solo piano, warmly received by BBC Music Magazine and chosen by the Gramophone’s critic, Jeremy Dibble, as his ‘Disc of the Year 2016‘

    Last season saw Benjamin performing at the Wigmore Hall in Schumann’s Piano Quintet (Elias) and in 2018 he has continued with the Gould’s Wigmore Beethoven Piano Trio cycle and appeared as solo recitalist in China and Japan.

    Benjamin Frith is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.