Music / “Back From The Brink”, Selby & Friends, Llewellyn Hall, March 24. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.
CONSIDERING the destructive impact on artists and audiences caused by COVID-19, it’s refreshing to see that some bands have survived, luckily Selby & Friends is one such alliance.
Celebrating composers who have fought against the establishment, in this concert entitled “Back From The Brink”, at Llewellyn Hall, performing together for the first time were Kathryn Selby, piano; Clancy Newman, cello and Dene Olding, violin.
The “Piano Trio” Op.150 by American composer Amy Beach, who wrote a vigorous refutation of Dvořák’s comments on women in music, was rightly performed before Dvořák’s trio.
Atmospheric and artistic beauty best sums up an image of this Beach trio. Romantic and contemporary are other descriptions of this delicious music.
The musicians created a powerful and lush sound as the music demands, but it’s also intimate and sensitive: an expression of love – and that was just the first movement. To the echoes of a Hollywood romance film, the instruments sang to each other an all-powerful passion.
Delightfully playful, even somewhat experimental, the music has gained momentum. This style was tonal, clear and touching music, played with an equally delightful balance and synchronicity.
And then came the “Piano Trio no. 1 in B flat major”, op. 21. This is a work that can be correlated with many pieces by Mozart or Beethoven but, of course, possesses a Czech personality.
Full of form and structure, in a most professional sense, it is strong and imposing music. The crescendos and then the obligatory step back were all executed in an exhilarating manner. It is a work that swells. Turbulence and calm follow each other throughout.
Folk-like songs and melodies fill this work. The part of each instrument was perfectly balanced. The second movement is a masterpiece of aural pleasure. Deeply deep, aching and slightly nationalistic, overall it was a great trio that offered a sea of bright and dark color; what more could a music lover ask for?
After the intermission, the “Piano Trio in A minor” by Maurice Ravel. Having heard the same piece a month earlier, in the same room, by the same line-up of performers, a pianist and string men, it was fun to compare the two performances.
Written just before World War I, this fascinating book still rings fresh today. It has moments of ghostly, supernatural sensibility and passion in its own right. Like a poem, almost untouchable, it expresses a transcendental statement through the sweetest of musical sounds.
This is music that will never cease to be fascinating on so many levels. And like the band that played it a month earlier, that and every work played in that concert had a deep depth of artistic luminescence.
As always, at every Selby & Friends concert, no matter who is playing, it was an impeccable and moving performance.
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Ian Meikle, editor