Artistic director Kathryn Selby of A Little Lunch Music introduced the string trio, Trio Ex Patria at a recent lunch time concert at Sydney’s City Recital Hall.
Kathryn Selby (pianist) was delighted to remind the audience that these musicians were all principals in their sections of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO). They are three of Europe’s finest musicians who met performing at the SSO.
This string trio showcased some of Sydney’s best musicians and in this inaugural concert “they embarked on a journey to explore the under-rated and under-performed repertoire of string trios”.
Andrew Haveron enjoyed the role of spokesperson for the trio and his informal and comical overtones offered a preconcert warmth.
He explained there was some insecurity about the group’s name and openly invited the audience to make alternative suggestions at the end of the concert.
I’m sure the English German and Italian cultural background of the musicians added to the quality of this chamber music concert that began with ranz Schubert’s Trio in B-flat major D581.
Schubert was a highly proficient composer by the age of seventeen and although he died at the age of thirty one, he was an extremely prolific composer in his lifetime.
He is ranked among the greatest composers of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Also he is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century.
However he only wrote three string trios and the final of these was the choice of the trio for the concert’s program, perhaps because it was Schubert’s only complete work for this genre.
The music was composed in 1817 and two versions of the String Trio exist. Schubert chose to rework the original composition and it was this amended adaptation that the Trio Ex Patria performed.
Franz Schubert’s Trio in B-flat major D581 is a work with charm and adventurousness in its sudden key switches. The four movements are all in a moderate tempo. There is no fast movement or big finale; it is an amiable and fluid composition.
The musical integrity, skill and experience of these excellent musicians set the tone of the performance. Every note was a pearl and exposed the repertoire of this less familiar music to the audience. The expressions on the trio’s faces mirrored their complete immersion in and dedication to the music. Their enjoyment was transmitted to the receptive audience.
Erno von Dohnyani’s Serenade in C-major Op. 10 was the second choice of music in the lunch time program. This gifted composer was also a very talented pianist and conductor.
He was born in Hungry in 1877 and died in New York in 1960. Dohnyani’s music was late Romantic and conservative in style, it was chiefly influenced by Brahms.
Dohnyani is principally known for his Variations on a Nursery Song for piano and orchestra.
Andrew Haveron sadly commented that even this work was rarely performed today.
Early this year Dohnyani’s grandson Christoph von Dohnanyi conducted the SSO and Andrew Haveron had the opportunity to speak with him. He asked the world renowned German conductor was there any reason behind writing the Serenade. His reply was “not really.”
However Christoph went on to say “he thought this was his grandfather’s greatest work.”
Dohnyani wrote Serenade in 1903 when he was only twenty six years old and it begins briskly with a march that appears again at the conclusion of the finale.
But then this dissolves and the sounds of a melancholy romance emerge in the pizzicato and the lyrical song of yearning and intensity from the strings.
In the second movement a passionate hint is alternated with sadness and the musicians exquisitely convey the wistful longing and uncertainty of love.
All three instruments combine simultaneously to create a bristling fugue of tormented emotions and abandoned fury in the third movement.
The intensity and physical stamina required for such playing was inspiring to observe and listen to.
The serious and melancholy fourth movement is slow and brooding. Disappointment and the agony of rejection are alive in the anguished notes of this expressive performance.
The final movement is joyful and the musicians drove this music with an ambitious force. This frolicking finale ended with the opening march re-emerging to round the serenade off with a very satisfying balance.
I’m sure this is the first of many successful concerts for this newly formed string trio and it is inspiring to witness their selection of music that is often overlooked for the concert platform.
In 2017, Trio Ex Patria will perform Beethoven at the Utzon Room for the SSO Cocktail Hour on 1 April and will also tour Australia with Selby & Friends.
Rose Niland, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016