Although she is best known as the pianist in the Florestan Trio, Gaudier Ensemble, and Domus, Susan Tomes has also etched out a distinguished career as a soloist and recitalist. Not surprisingly, her repertory is vast, taking in a range of solo, chamber, and concerto works by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Mahler, Fauré, Martinu, and many others, including lighter fare by Billy Mayerl and Jerome Kern and contemporary music by Judith Weir. Tomes has made over 50 recordings, most of them available from Hyperion and Virgin Classics. She is also the author of three books and writes in various capacities for the Guardian and The Independent newspapers. Tomes has also written for, and appeared on, many BBC radio broadcasts, and regularly gives master classes at leading U.K. conservatories and elsewhere.
Susan Tomes was born in Edinburgh, U.K., on May 26, 1954. While the piano has been her main instrument, she studied the violin, as well, playing that instrument in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Educationally, Tomes was a trailblazer, enrolling at King's College, Cambridge, to become the first woman to earn a music degree there. She has acknowledged pianist György Sebök and violinist Sandor Végh as influential teachers, from post-Cambridge master classes she attended.
From 1979, Tomes played in the chamber group Domus. Its first recording, the Fauré piano quartets on Hyperion, received Gramophone Magazine's best chamber music recording for 1985. Tomes joined a second chamber group, the Gaudier Ensemble, which debuted at Wigmore Hall in June 1989 to critical acclaim.
Following the disbanding of Domus in 1995, Tomes, along with Domus cellist Richard Lester and violinist Anthony Marwood, formed the Florestan Trio later that year. The ensemble had great success, winning a Gramophone Award in 1999 for their Schumann trios CD, on Hyperion.
Tomes turned out her first book in 2004, Beyond the Notes (Boydell Press), which documented events associated with Domus. She produced two more books, A Musician's Alphabet (Faber & Faber; 2006) and Out of Silence (Boydell Press; 2010), which chronicles a year in her life as a performer.
In the new century Tomes has also remained busy with the Gaudier Ensemble and the Florestan Trio, the latter group disbanding in January 2012. She has also appeared as concerto soloist with Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and other London ensembles. Among Tomes' more acclaimed solo recordings is her 2004 Hyperion CD (reissued on Helios in 2009) of Mozart Concertos No. 11, No. 12, and No. 13.~ Rovi