March 16, 2021
Music / “Exotic Strudel”, Selby and Friends at Llewellyn Hall, March 15. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.
SELBY and Friends turn out some fascinating concerts and offer audiences a taste of delicious music. In their latest feast, “Exotic Strudel”, treats from Spain, Switzerland, America, Russia and Austria were served up.
In Selby and Friends were Kathryn Selby, piano, Susie Park, violin, Julian Smiles, cello.
“Circulo” by Spanish composer Joaquín Turina is a musical day in the life of Seville, a Fantasia. The deep, sad sounds of dawn open this piece, but it soon develops into a soft tune that awakens into the beauty of a fresh morning. Rejoicing follows through luscious melodies and falling piano passages and romantic block chords as it moves into the twilight. The sounds of Seville came alive through delicious and enthralling Spanish styles.
In three movements, composed in 1942, this piece beguiles considering what was happening to the world then. The players made this succulent music sing with the sounds of Seville.
The brooding dark music of Ernest Bloch’s “Three Nocturnes”, while intense, also reflects a delicate nature. The three short works range from the lyrical and joyous to the deeply sad. The violin played a prominent role. Its high-pitched notes cutting through telling a passionate story that Park unravelled marvellously.
Written at just 16, the “Piano Trio No.1”, by Dmitri Shostakovich is a work that dumbfounds. Initially titled “Poem”, for a loved one, the delicate romantic opening soon moved into a dissonant and quirky character, not uncommon in much of Shostakovich’s works. The rapid changes in this trio didn’t stop coming. His teachers of the time must have wondered what was going on.
This piece is full of youthful exuberance and brashness. It even slides into a love song that could be mistaken as a lullaby, but that didn’t last as he was soon off onto something new, but with echoes of the love song coming through. The inventiveness does not let up. Smiles on cello made this sound like a sublime work, even though it went through some ferocious passages. Selby on piano sounded out everything with gusto and clarity. What a work.
After the interval, Franz Schubert’s “Piano Trio No.1 in B-flat Major”. This was written in the last year of his life. Over the four movements, the colours and beauty and dance-like pieces show off Schubert’s profound musical creativity. The ease of his musical transitions is a lesson in composition by just listening to it.
This is a monumental work, lasting some 45 minutes with many racy and lovely tunes. It goes through almost every musical colour there is. The romantic singing melodies on strings and the lively and flowing piano sections, the rich musical conversations between the players told an individual and compelling story.
All this flavoursome and brilliant music was played to perfection. The programming had just the right balance, and few serve up music better than Selby and Friends.