This is the second concert in the Sydney Mozart Society’s programme at its new venue at Chatswood Concourse that I have been privileged to attend. The fact that this concert featured the well-known Selby and Friends made it doubly enticing. The programme was certainly varied and unusually framed. Kathryn Selby’s friends this night were violinist Andrew Haveron and cellist Umberto Clerici, both principals in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
First up, the Mozart Sonata for piano and violin in B flat K 378 (1779). This piece is one of many of Mozart’s that would seem stylistically to have been written earlier than its published date and was written for harpsichord or fortepiano. A tuneful, rollicking opening, in which there was some minor stuttering is followed by an expressive andantino. This is followed by a lively rondo which, near the end, has an unusual segment in triplets, followed by a Haydenesque pause before the ending.
The violinist introduced the duetto no 1 for violin and cello by Rolla and I enjoyed the format where the soloists in turn gave some background to the works performed. Despite the fact that Rolla lived in Italy as the director of La Scala for thirty years, the piece had little in the way of Italian characteristics but was, none the less, engaging. Andrew Haveron on his Guadagnini violin interacted beautifully with the cellist playing his one month old cello! The jaunty polonaise, which made up the last movement was striking in its forcefulness and really demonstrated the excellence of the soloists, in this unusual instrumental combination.
Beethoven’s Cello Sonata no 5 in D was written in Beethoven’s late period and, in fact, was the last sonata he wrote before concentrating all his forces on Piano Sonatas. The second movement Adagio is very reminiscent in parts of the slow movement of the “Ghost” trio written much earlier but gravitates gradually to the major key before easing without break into the last movement, a deeply expressive fugue where dissonant counterpoint in the piano and cello were balanced with a pounding rhythm. Overall, very exhilarating.
After the interval, Kathryn Selby introduced the piano trio no 1 by Arensky. Arensky was, like his mentor, Tchaikowsky, shunned by the political power of “the five”, particularly Rimsky-Korsakow, due to his music being not Russian enough in character. One could not argue with this theory in this piece which seems largely French in character with shades of Cezar Frank, Massenet and particularly Saint Saens in that the scherzo is very reminiscent of the scherzo from the latter’s 2nd Piano Concerto. Slavic characteristics did show through in the first movement where brilliant rhythmic figures by the pianist were prominent.
Overall, this concert was hugely enjoyable with its varied innovative programme in an intimate atmosphere, an enthusiastic audience, and above all, the brilliance of its three soloists. I sincerely trust that this will not be the last time they play together.