IT was more than appropriate that Shostakovich’s Second Piano Trio was the main focus of the Skazki Trio’s programme at Ilminster Arts Centre.

These musicians are originally from Eastern Europe – Poland, Belarus and Russia respectively – and more recently working together at the Royal College of Music, London.

This is a work born from the 900-day siege of Leningrad by Germans from September 1941 to January 1944; for some of its duration the hardship was experienced at first hand by Shostakovich.

But the question remains: how far do musicians extend the brutality of such a score to their performance? From Kamila and Maria we were not spared.

In Dvoøák’s Second Piano Trio, a late work of contrasting moods from the 1890s, the Skazkis were deeply passionate and cheerfully dance-like in turn.

Alisa’s laments were particularly impressive in binding this otherwise unwieldy work together.

We can even follow the Eastern Europe link through to Haydn – in the 18th Century Esterhazá, where the composer was in service for 30 years, was on the borders of Hungary.

Each of the Skazi’s four concerts began with Haydn’s most famous trio, the Gypsy Rondo.

While they played with style through the melting harmonies of its slow movement and the long lines of the opening Andante, in the Rondo itself, the ensemble was not quite consistent, and the accented notes were exaggerated.

Nevertheless, for some of the audience, this popular movement brought the most enthusiastic response.

You will now have to wait until the first week in May for the next group of recitals – a very wide-ranging programme from multi-prizewinner, tenor Rupert Charlesworth