Selby and Friends close year on high note with Beethoven, Beethoven, Beethoven
November 25, 2015 2:03pm
Steve Moffatt Manly Daily
Kathryn Selby finished her 2015 season with an all-Beethoven concert.
BEETHOVEN buffs are in for a bumper 2016 with two complete symphonic cycles being performed in Sydney and with Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra tackling some of the late string quartets.
And what better way for Kathryn Selby and Friends to end their excellent chamber music season than with four works by the master, including two of his finest violin and cello sonatas and the wonderful Archduke piano trio.
But the program started with a student work, the Allegretto in E flat major Hess 48, which was written when he was about 20 and just before he left Bonn for Vienna. It’s almost a salon piece, a simple but nice enough minuet which shows little of the adventurous composer of the later piano trios.
It laid the groundwork for the other three works on the program. These were all from Beethoven’s “middle” period and composed at a time when he was not only becoming increasingly aware of his deafness but also of other illnesses as well.
The sonata for violin and piano No. 10 Op 96 — the last one he wrote — gave the audience a chance to hear Dale Barltrop, concertmaster of both the Melbourne and Toronto Symphony Orchestras and who Sydney audiences saw leading the Australian World Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle earlier in the year.
He will become more familiar to chamber music audiences next year when he takes up his position as lead violin in the Australian String Quartet.
Playing what he says is his favourite of the composer’s 10 sonatas, Barltrop showed great sensitivity in this dreamy work, with its gorgeous slow movement and a finale of variations by turns playful and majestic.
As you would expect from a concertmaster, his ensemble playing was a feature, especially in the opening movement with piano and violin echoing trills in a magical question and answer session.
Barltrop’s phrasing and line were carefully constructed in a finely nuanced performance of great musical chemistry between the two players.
The same could be said of Timo-Veikko Valve’s reading of the great cello sonata No. 3 where in the opening the darkness of the solo instrument’s lower register was beautifully contrasted by Selby’s sparkling legato up the top of the keyboard.
Throughout the evening Selby showed her customary attention to dynamic and pacing, leading in a subtle and fluent way.
Valve, the principal cello with the ACO, is a dynamic and expressive performer, fascinating to watch as he turns the page, adjusts his glasses and attacks with his bow in one movement.
In the Archduke trio Beethoven seemed almost to have too many ideas to contain in one work, from its warm and luscious opening melody to the irrepressible last movement and its playful dancy rhythm.
Valve and Barltrop combined superbly with their bowed and pizzicato unison passages decorating Selby’s magical piano in the first movement.
The second movement is almost a complete work in itself with its string solo introduction, a mysterious fugal episode and then some brilliant waltz-like passages from the piano.
Wonderful music, superbly performed and a perfect prelude to Selby and Friends’ 10th birthday season next year.
●CONCERT: Selby and Friends
●WHERE: City Recital Hall Angel Place
●WHEN: Tuesday, November 24