Selby Serves up an Afternoon Feast | Exotic Strudel

29th March, 2021 | Concert Reviews


March 14, 2021, Turramurra By Tony Burke

Turramurra on a wet Sunday afternoon needed some brightness and it certainly received it from Selby & Friends whose latest offering was titled “Exotic Strudel” indicating the origin of the content from contrasting areas of Europe.

The filling of the Strudel on this occasion was Julian Smiles on cello and Susie Park on violin. Julian is familiar to many of us as the cellist of The Goldner Quartet but he has also played as soloist with the major Australian Orchestras, having held teaching roles at the Australian Institute of Music and the Sydney Conservatorium. He plays a Ventapane cello from 1827. Susie Park has just as impressive a CV having launched her career by winning the Yehudi Menuhin competition in France at the tender age of 16. Since then she has played in all the main Australian Orchestras as well as many in Europe and the USA. She plays a Guadagnini violin from 1740. Kathryn Selby herself needs no introduction and her brilliant pianism attracts the best musicians to accompany her.

The apple in the Strudel consisted of three contrasting pieces by Joacquin Turina, Ernest Bloch and Dmitri Shostakovich.

Joacquin Turina suffered persecution by the Republicans during the Spanish Civil war and tended to be under the shadow of his more prominent compatriots De Falla and Albeniz. His “Circulo”, billed as a fantasia for piano trio is in three movements with one break and I think I would have trouble, if not forearmed, in recognising the piece’s Spanish origin. The emphasis is more on the “Fantastic” and absorbing as it was was beautifully portrayed by the Trio, forming a great introduction.

The music of Ernest Bloch, who was born in Switzerland to a Jewish family but composed mostly in the USA, tends to be associated with dour and often religious intonations. There was no hint of this however in his three nocturnes which are perhaps haunting in nature with the second reminiscent of a lullaby. There is even a hint of Jazz in the outer movements, with the Finale summarising previous themes – my impression of the composer has been changed forever.

Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No 1 in C minor, originally titled “Poeme”, was written when the composer was 16 while studying at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. A recurrent chromatic theme is followed by a more openly expressive idea which, as the cellist explained, is reminiscent of the large amount of music that the composer wrote for the film industry. It was interesting to see how idiomatic the work was of the composer even at this age.

After an interval followed the cherry strudel of the afternoon, Schubert’s Trio in B Flat, one of the two great works that he composed for this combination in the last years of his life. It is more tempestuous than the E flat that followed and contains more tempo alterations and even syncopations than its successor particularly in the finale which ends with a sharp Presto. Despite this the work flows with unbounded energy and numerous memorable themes so that the attention of the listener never flags despite its length of 45 minutes. This work really brought out the excellence of the musicians with their accuracy and panache and brought to an end a great afternoon’s entertainment. If only we could have had the second Trio as an encore, but this work is even longer!

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