You’re going to hear a lot about Estivo Trio
You are forgiven if you’ve not heard of The Estivo Trio. Neither had I. But this dynamic ensemble, which burst onto the chamber music scene at the 2014 Estivo Festival in Italy, is taking it by storm. Believe me, you are going to hear a lot more about The Estivo Trio, particularly in mid-July this year when they compete in the 7th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. Eight piano trios from around the world were selected from dozens of applicants, and Estivo is one of the eight!! So let’s give them a round applause right there!
Attentive and focussed audience throughout
On Friday night the Sydney-based Estivo Trio performed two piano trios for an appreciative and enthused audience. It was encouraging to see so many young people and even some children, who sat attentive and focussed throughout. The musicians are violinist Fox Chan who teaches in the Rising Stars program at the Con; cellist Jonathan Bekes who will shortly commence studies at ANAM; and pianist Ying Ho who is involved with Rising Stars as well as the Sydney Con High School.
Schumann’s Piano Trio #3 in G minor & Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor
The performance was in two halves – in the first they played Robert Schumann’s Piano Trio #3 in G minor; after a short break, we were treated to Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor. I thought the linking of the two works under the theme of France and Romance was rather clever. The passionate romanticism of Schumann (the concert was one day before Valentine’s Day) and the French elegance of Ravel was the obvious link. But there are deeper forces at play in the music that links them too:
- Ravel wrote his piano trio in the early months of the First World War, and he was clearly deeply emotionally affected by what was happening around him. He spoke of his “insane heroic rage” and feeling he could lose his mind while composing the work.
- Schumann, composing his trio 60 years earlier, fought his own battles – in his case, the interior demons that tormented him in what we would now call mental illness. The angst, the drivenness, the interior pain is embedded in their music and the performers were emotionally engaged with it in their playing. But there were also some profoundly reflective and lyrical moments, some oases in the pain, some moments of joyfulness after the melancholy, especially in the Schumann, beautifully handled by the Trio.
- In the third movement of the Ravel, the pianist lays out a simple but moving theme with the left hand and once joined by the violin and cello the sound and intensity builds up. Ravel’s last movement by contrast was like light dancing on water eventually climaxing in virtuosic playing.
Both works showcased the extraordinary skills of the players individually and as one unit.
Balanced sound and deep emotional intensity
The Estivo Trio has a wonderfully balanced sound, and a connection with one another and the music that infuses their playing with deep emotional intensity. They play with great maturity and passion, as well as the technical proficiency these piano trios demand. I will certainly be following their progress, especially in the Melbourne competition, and I expect to hear great things about them.