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Canberra Today 7°/10° | Sunday, August 14, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Exciting trio plays with passion… and fun

Mandy Ng (piano), Elsie Chen (clarinet) and Angela Liu (horn). Photo: Peter Hislop.

Music “The Snail, the Liquorice Stick, the Eighty-Eight”. At Wesley Music Centre, July 17. Reviewed by DANTE COSTA.

SYDNEY Conservatorium graduates Angela Liu (horn), Elsie Chen (clarinet) and Mandy Ng (piano) gave a fun and exciting display of seldom-performed chamber works by Reinecke, Jenner, Voigt and others.

Titled “The Snail, the Liquorice Stick and the Eighty-Eight”, the concert was light-hearted and entertaining with the trio happy to finally be able to perform in the venue following two years of covid delays.

Opening with the allegro from Carl Reinecke’s “Trios in B-flat major for Horn, Clarinet and Piano Op.274”, the trio’s sound was incredibly well rounded as was its attention to detail.

The phrasing of each melodic line was clean and played with conviction, while the textures blended together in an eloquent conversation of sounds.

Featuring a work by Australian composer and horn player, Thomas McConochie, Liu and Ng presented a fun Renaissance-style piece titled “Pavane and Galliard Op.17 (TWV 73)”. The piece was vivacious and the duo maintained its joyful dance-like character throughout the performance.

As Chen resumed her position on the stage, the trio performed a beautiful rendition of Friedrich Wilhelm Voigt’s “Nocturne for Horn, Clarinet and Piano Op.75”. The piece conjured a feeling of nostalgia as it was laced with gentle yet magical filigree from the Ng at the piano.

Both the horn and clarinet lines concluded the piece with an enchanting cantabile, singing the opening theme at until the recapitulation came to a close. Eugène Bozza’s “Fantaisie Italienne for Clarinet and Piano” was then presented by Chen and Ng in an amazing display of technical capacity by the duo.

The electric character of the piece was executed with great precision by Chen as she whizzed through the cadenza’s chromatic and arpeggiated passages with ease. Her playing in the melodic sections demonstrated remarkable dynamic and tonal command contrasts. This was met by the playful, staccato scherzo towards the end.

The trio then returned to the stage after a short interval to perform the moderato from Gustav Jenner’s “Trio in E-flat major for Horn, Clarinet and Piano”. The piece was played at a confident moderato with an entertaining and well-developed counterpoint between the three musicians.

William Bolcom’s “The Serpent’s Kiss” was performed by Ng at the piano and enlisted the assistance of the audience to clap in a call and response-like gesture at the beginning and end.

It was as if ragtime met rhapsody with a combination of various compositional forms, sentiments and idioms. Ng’s playing drew upon a combination of explosive and fiery passages met with soft, gentle and serial harmonies in the top registers of the piano. She made use of the different tone colors and dynamics of the instrument, which greatly elevated the performance.

Next up was the “Scherzo estonese” from Maximilian Heidrich’s “Trio for Horn, Clarinet and Piano Op.25”. The trio performed the short and playful scherzo with great exuberance and cheerfulness. The elements of Estonian folk tunes and ornamentation were portrayed through the quirkily little motifs that dotted the piece.

In what was like a breath of fresh air, following the whirlwind of the program’s excitement, the concert was then concluded with a serene and pastoral “Reflections” by Low Shao Ying. A great way to end a great concert.

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