News location:

Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

CIMF / Two concerts linked by musical subtleties

Trio Karénine are French, formed in 2009 and named after a heroine from Tolstoy. Photo: Peter Hislop

Canberra International Music Festival / Concerts 3 & 4, Albert Hall, May 2. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD.

These concerts featured two of the international ensembles performing at this year’s festival. Members of both groups are around the same age, mid-30s or so and both concerts were programmed with subtle connecting links between the works performed.

Trio Karénine are French, formed in 2009 and named after a heroine from Tolstoy. The musicians are Julien Dieudegard (violin), Louis Rodde (cello) and Paloma Kouider (piano) with a mostly French repertoire for this morning concert on the second day of the festival.

The afternoon shift was taken by the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam, based naturally enough in Holland, with a selection of music that neatly book-ended that of the Trio Karénine. 

The four musicians are Judith Van Driel (violin), Marleen Wester (violin), Marie-Louise de Jong (viola) and David Faber (cello) and they have been together around the same length of time as the French trio, but the origin of their name remains obscure.

The performance by Trio Karénine included works by Saint-Saëns, the Piano Trio No 1, Op 18 from 1864 and Ravel, the Piano Trio in A written in 1914. 

These two works were separated by the second movement of Piano Trio No1, op 35 from 1926 by Spanish composer Joaquin Turina whose use of folk-dance rhythms from differing parts of Spain provides the unifying link.

The Saint-Saëns trio has hints of folk song melody and Ravel’s music has deep connections to the Basque country on the French/Spanish border.

The Dudok Quartet… drew the audience into their understanding of each work. Photo: Peter Hislop

The Dudok Quartet Amsterdam found a different way to tie their concert together, finding music with a sense of playfulness. 

Mozart in general they describe as “happy music” which does, they contend, make it harder to play. For this concert they chose his last string quartet, No 23 in F major with a final movement they described as a bit like “juggling chainsaws” with the necessity of taking the risk of failure in performing it to an audience. 

In a similar vein was Balderdash by the festival’s composer-in-residence Holly Harrison. The work is somewhere between a string quartet playing heavy metal and the minimalism of Steve Reich or Phillip Glass only noisier and more frenetic. Nevertheless, music of great fun. 

The final work in this concert was by Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) and again playful. Modern, without being self-consciously so, and most enjoyable.

Both groups played to a very high standard, as we would expect of international guests at the Canberra International Music Festival. The stage presence of each group was quite different, with the cellist from Trio Karénine saying just a few introductory words from the stage. They let the music speak for itself with lots of eye contact and concentration. 

The Dudok Quartet were much more loquacious, perhaps being more confident in English, and drew the audience into their understanding of each work. They are also rather more theatrical than their French colleagues, but with a different style of repertoire. 

In any case, an excellent performance from both groups.

Who can be trusted?

In a world of spin and confusion, there’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in Canberra.

If you trust our work online and want to enforce the power of independent voices, I invite you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support is invested back into our journalism to help keep strong and free.

Become a supporter

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor



Share this

Leave a Reply

Related Posts


Power play makes for exciting theatre

"The production of Mary Stuart provides an opportunity to experience something of the very essence of power play and how it makes for exciting and challenging theatre," says reviewer JOE WOODWARD.

Follow us on Instagram @canberracitynews