Trio plays with intensity and grace

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Pianist Kathryn Selby

Music / “Let’s Get Personal”, Selby & Friends, at selbyandfriends.com.au until this Saturday, May 16. Reviewed by TONY MAGEE. 

PIANIST Kathryn Selby has inventively and most professionally countered the COVID-19 live concert lockdown, by recording Tour 2, “Let’s Get Personal”, which would have been seen in Llewellyn Hall last Thursday, May 7.

To be fair to the artists and to readers, I was able to dispense with the tiny computer speakers and instead run a line-out through a Sansui AU-717 amplifier and a pair of exquisite Rogers BBC Studio 1 Monitor speakers.

Kathryn Selby was joined by Andrew Haveron, the principal violin and concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Umberto Clerici, the co-principal cello with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Mozart’s “Piano Trio No. 3 in B flat major, K.502” opens the program. Immediately, one is struck by the clarity of tone from the piano, as well as the excellent balance between it, the violin and cello. Phrasing is crisp and clear, quite structured and precise.

Forte passages came across with intensity, quieter passages were delivered with style and grace.

Intonation within the trio was superb. One of the most “in-tune” and intelligent performances of any work I’ve heard in a long time.

Selby plays her Mozart with a relaxed technique, extracting a singing tone from the piano. Cadence points were all executed with a suitable flourish from all three players. The performance was one of authority and precision, with the slow movement almost verging on Romanticism.

The third movement revealed a return to strict classical structure and precision, delivered with conviction and purpose.

The “Piano Trio in E flat major, Op.1 No.1” by Beethoven followed and revealed an even more beautiful singing tone from the piano.

Violin and piano exchanged melodic riffs almost in a conversational manner. Later in the first movement, the cello switched from a supporting role, creating a fascinating three-way musical dialogue.

The slow movement was a showcase for the violin and cello to speak with each other in alternating musical phrases. Both Haveron on violin and Clerici on Cello delivered tone production of beauty and depth.

The fourth and final movement revealed intense and thrilling passages of allegro and vivace, played with precision timing and phrasing by the trio.

Dvorak’s “Piano Trio No.4 in E minor, Op.90″, subtitled “Dumky”, closed the concert. A brooding, introspective composition with cheerful sections interspersed within. It has no less than thirteen musical sections.

The three musicians very successfully created an atmosphere of a person or persons, struggling with a myriad of mixed emotions.

The myriad of dynamics and musical shadings created by the trio were of a magnitude that ranged from the sublime and delicate to massive, thunderous, almost torturous climaxes.

Dvorak’s “Dumky” trio is surely one of the greatest musical works of the late 19th century. It portrays every possible human emotion and feeling, all wrapped up into a complex, mind-blowing experience. In the hands of Selby, Haveron and Clerici, it was as though they lived the piece.

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