by Tony Burke ClassikON | Sep 5, 2023
Selby & Friends | Three Stages of Man
Sunday September 3, 2023, Turramurra Uniting Church
Rachmaninoff had a lot to contend with in his early life. His father was against his musical career and later abandoned the family while two of his beloved sisters died young. In addition, his mentor and hero Pyotr Tchaikowsky died in mysterious circumstances – Worse, his 1st Symphony received adverse criticism by many (including himself!) and he developed a deep depression and writer’s block which lasted for three years.
He wrote the first version of his Piano Trio in D minor in the same year as the fateful 1st Symphony but it was hardly performed until he revised it more than ten years later. The Trio assembled by Kathryn Selby was up to her usual immaculate standards. However, the piano was Sergei’s favourite instrument and it is hardly surprising that this instrument dominates nor is it surprising that it has been rescored as a Piano Concerto by Alan Kogosowski, an Australian pianist. The opening movement starts with the piano against a ground bass followed by a three note repeated figure reminiscent of the beginning of Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto. The second movement is a theme and many variations with the theme having similarities to one in his second concerto – great contrasts with serene and dramatic episodes. A shorter allegro provides an amiable close to a very engaging work.
Earlier, we heard Maurice Ravel’s sonata for violin and cello in C minor.Timo-Veikko Valve told us that this was his favourite piece. “Tipi” is well-known as the principal cellist of the ACO while he has appeared as soloist here and in his native Finland. Ravel was relatively young when he wrote it yet the opening allegro is surprisingly dissonant even for him. This resolves to some extent with many pizzicato episodes while the finale lives up to its title “forceful with zest”. “Tipi’s” 1616 Amati cello certainly got a workout.
Brahms’ Trio in C major, as Susie Park explained, has many references to his favourite Hungarian idioms. In typical fashion, it swings wildly from lyrical to sad and from soft to forceful, to satisfying effect. The Scherzo suggests a Jewish musical influence confirming Brahms’ violent opposition to the antisemitic movement prominent in music at that time. Our own Susie Park has toured extensively and is now based mostly in the USA. She plays a Guadagnini 17th century violin.
Yet another concert superbly crafted by Kathryn who continues to attract performers of the highest quality.