By Spencer Allman

This sparsely populated corner of the country is pleasantly entrepreneurial when it comes to the organisation of concerts of classical music. Hay Music promotes performances by prestigious artists in various venues in Herefordshire and neighbouring counties.

On Sunday, June 26, the Rautio Trio, a group that represents three nationalities, offered a programme of music for that specific line-up in the cosy space of the auditorium at Dorstone House. With trios by Haydn, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, the audience had a chance to hear chamber music played in a private house, experiencing precisely the sort of intimacy that this genre tends to engender. The Rautios began with Haydn’s popular Piano Trio No 39, the ‘Gypsy Rondo’, an accomplished rendition of a light work that functions well as a crowd-pleaser.

With Beethoven’s Trio No 4, we had moved to a time - as was pointed out in a little talk beforehand by the cellist – when there is far more interaction between players. With some stirring piano playing from Jan Rautio, one had the acute impression that this ensemble is not merely a collection of individual musicians.

Probably the main focus of the afternoon was a performance of the Piano Trio in A minor by Tchaikovsky. There is a school of thought that says that the Russian composer’s chamber works are among his very best. The Trio is a substantial piece both in terms of scale and emotional heft. It opens with a rapturous theme on the cello that is then taken up a fourth higher by the violin and finally spelt out in no uncertain fashion on the piano. Our attention was thus immediately drawn to the striking talent of the Trio’s most recent addition, cellist Victoria Simonsen. Her warmth of tone and seemingly effortless handling of some complex writing were highly impressive.

Indeed, the Rautios, who have been going for 12 years or so, delivered a first-rate account of a work by Tchaikovsky that often moves away from the domain of Romantic gush, taking us instead to a landscape of gentle lyricism reminiscent of Brahms.

(Not that Brahms would have appreciated the comment – the two men had little time for one another).

Hay Music is putting on a recital by pianist Clare Hammond at the same Golden Valley venue on July 24. Not to be missed.