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Canberra Today 8°/15° | Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

With a nod and wink, Sally maintains the mystery

From left, David Shaw, flute; Edward Neeman, piano and Samuel Payne, cello, performing “The Strawberry Thief”.

Music / “The Strawberry Thief” for piano trio by Sally Greenaway. Live music stream, December 3. Reviewed by TONY MAGEE

CANBERRA’S Sally Greenaway has revealed, cleverly in reverse order, the final instalment, which is actually the first, of her composition “The Strawberry Thief”.

The piece opens with sixths and a tonic foundation in C major from the cello, which I interpreted as a cheeky and fleeting nod to Sebastian Bach, followed by tentatively fluttering flute murmurs and gentle piano whispers.

Later, there is also a “wink-at-you” composer’s nod to Ross Edwards!

This cautious prelude offers a glimpse into the secretive world of the strawberry thief as it begins planning the morning’s activities.

Flute melody floats above, accompanied by rippling piano alternating between major and minor in an effective and supportive accompaniment. Tremolo from the cello morphs into arpeggiated lines, splashed with counterpoint against the flute.

Hearing the trilogy together as a suite in three parts, I began to wonder who or what is said thief? I don’t think foxes like strawberries. Perhaps some of the birds from “The Secret Garden”? No, there is another mystery being hinted at in the opening piece. Listeners will have to decide who they think that could be.

All played superbly, evocatively bringing to life the essence of the music. In addition, excellent camera work by Luke Patterson and wonderful animations by Matthew Koh and Marisa Martin added immeasurably to the listening experience.

Sound quality for this production was also first rate, engineered by Duncan Lowe and Kimmo Vennonen.

I’ll leave the final words to Scottish composer Greg Harradine, who taking full advantage of the streaming technology, listening live from Edinburgh, aptly commented during the performance: “The Secret Garden is full of understated beauty, a subtle blooming of quiet radiance.”

“The Strawberry Thief Suite” is available on Greenaway’s forthcoming CD, “Delights and Dances” or for purchase via unlimited streaming from

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