Music / “Patriot Games”, Selby and Friends. At Llewellyn Hall, May 14. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY
TRIOS from across the world filled with colour, the mystical, dance and a fervent nationalist stance were brought vividly to life by Selby and Friends in the Llewellyn Hall last night.
On stage were three old friends and veteran Australian artists, Kathryn Selby, piano; Dene Olding, violin and Julian Smiles, cello.
The concert began with music from one of Australia’s most prolific composers, Ross Edwards and his “Piano Trio”. In the opening allegretto, the cello plays a central role through tones that convey a deep sense of longing. While the playful violin accompanies, the piano rolls along and its spirit becomes grander as the music progresses.
Full of catchy motives that cross instruments, the first two movements tell a gentle, flowing story. Highly delicate but with a tempestuous underflow, the music is dreamy and unusual. The piano has long rests and plays under the other instruments, almost as though it wasn’t meant to be there.
The dancing third movement was more like the Ross Edwards that most know. It jumps with activity and has a wonderful play between the instruments. The performance by these three professionals created a passionate and dynamic atmosphere.
Spanish composer Enrique Granados came next with his “Piano Trio, Op.50”. Exuding happiness, this music sings with joy. Every instrument has a prominent part. Passages of deeply moving writing flow from each player. Spanish songs are heard as the violin and cello sing together in the first section.
More joy-filled life and dance prevails in the second movement, but this time with a sense of urgency. The perfect connectivity among these three players is quite special. They just know.
The song-like third movement had the most delicious writing. Like a lover’s duet, the strings sang to each other as the piano held them together. For the final section, it was fire and passion. This is not sad music. Filled with romance, only a person in love with life could have written this.
After the interval, for the last work, Bohemian composer Antonin Dvo?ák’s, “Piano Trio in F minor Op.65”. Over 40 minutes, this trio has it all. Sadness, passion, dance, patriotic themes and many strong musical ideas, but some excessive sections too.
At times, it’s like a cello, violin and piano sonata all rolled into one. Every player gets to shine. There’s a lot of musical territory covered in this trio, and not all of it is Dvo?ák at his finest. There are rambling sections and perhaps parts that could have been edited out. That said, the writing is of the highest quality.
But the third slow movement, through its gentle and loving songs, recovers anything unnecessary before. It ended strongly on a bright note in an exuberant folk style to complete a fine concert.
Like many others, this reviewer could listen to Selby and Friends all day, every day.