Golden Blues – Sydney Arts Guide

30th March, 2024 | Concert Reviews


Diana Carroll – Posted 29 March 2024

Selby & Friends launched their 2024 Season with a delightfully eclectic program of old and new chamber music. Kathy Selby was joined on stage by two popular musical collaborators, the newly appointed Associate Concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Alexandra Osborne, on violin, alongside cellist and composer Clancy Newman.

Osborne took the microphone first, welcoming the audience to the intimate salon-style performance at the City Recital Hall saying it is ‘one of my favourite halls in the world’. These personal introductions are a highlight of Selby & Friends concerts, giving each player a chance to speak and creating a real bond between the players and the audience. They enhance our enjoyment of the music by sharing personal insights into the works and the composers.

Beethoven’s beautiful Allegretto for Piano Trio was the perfect concert opener with its gentle reflective mood and almost anti-climactic climax. Suitably soothed, the audience was ready to embrace Arvo Pärt’s more dramatic Fratres for Violin and Piano, a piece written in 1977 with its premiere performance in 1980. Osborne took the lead on solo violin before a resounding entrance by Selby on piano. Hints of Gregorian chants, mystical beliefs, and Estonian mythology resonate in  this deceptively complex work.

Clancy Newman then introduced his own composition, Golden Blues for Cello and Violin, in its Australian premiereNewman says the piece is influenced by musical sources as diverse as Bach and Jimi Hendrix, and the scores to Vertigo, Psycho, and The Twilight Zone. Golden Blues, he says, can take you to ‘a spooky place’. Indeed, faint echoes of these can be heard in this wonderful work. Reflecting on his compositional style, Newman revealed that sometimes ‘the pencil takes you’ – a rather lovely turn of phrase and a feeling I’m sure many writers and composers have experienced.

Kathy Selby then introduced Schumann’s beautiful fantasy Drei Fantasiestücke for Cello and Piano. This work is surprisingly wistful and almost peaceful for something that was written in 1849, a time of personal and political upheaval. Newman’s cello was especially vibrant in the third Rasch und mit Feuer (quick and with fire) movement.

After interval, and a delightful refresher of the City Recital Hall’s mini gelati pots, it was time for Antonin Dvořák’s magnificent Piano Trio No. 3 in F minor. This is a perfect example of late Romantic chamber music with a solid classical structure in each of the four movements and a compelling emotional arc from brooding introspection to triumphant exuberance. The Trio really does showcase Dvořák’s mastery of melody, harmony, and rhythmic vitality. It also allowed Selby to showcase her pianism, playing the demanding rhythms and rapid runs with consummate ease. Osborne, Newman, and Selby worked together seamlessly, revelling in the intricate interplay between the instruments and taking it to the delightful Allegro con brio climax.

Kathy Selby is to be congratulated for always presenting an interesting and varied performance with accomplished musicians that really celebrates the joy of chamber music.

Golden Blues played nationally March 17 – 25, 2024. Selby & Friends will perform Luminaries in May. See the website for details and bookings:

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