There was much to admire and little to fault in this performance by the Sutherland Trio. Opening the program was a piano trio version of Lili Boulanger’s D’un soir triste, a substantial single movement work that forms a diptych along with D’un matin de printemps. The piece is lugubrious and fatalistic given the context of Boulanger’s approaching death at just age 24. The dark tonal contours were crafted with spacious solemnity and exactitude of ensemble that allowed the foreboding atmosphere to wander freely yet always remain as one between these three players. There was seemless, if not exquisite melodic interplay between Kadarauch’s cello and Seller’s violin, dark in the respective tenor and alto registers of their instruments, insistent on carrying the torrid climax but devoid of unnecessary or affected emotional mannerisms. Added to this, is Almonte’s incomparable sense of ensemble: at times her pianissimo so discrete as to emulate the gasps of sadness vaguely conscious in the darkness of the string writing.
For Richard Danielpour’s Songs of the Night, tenor, David Todd joined with the Sutherland Trio. Danielpour is a Grammy-award winning composer from New York. The text of this song cycle from the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, explores the darker recesses of the psyche. Caroline Almonte explained that the influences of Lennon and Bernstein permeate the psyche of this New York composer and that this particular work seems to revisit the musical idioms of Stravinsky and Bernstein. The tessitura of the vocal writing often lay just outside the usual range creating a certain stress – evidently deliberate – to enhance the text. Todd sung this demanding work with clear diction and poise and presented as an intelligent singer with an expansive musical understanding of this difficult composition.
Chausson’s rhapsodic Piano Trio in G minor Op. 3 was played with equal brilliance and sensitivity. The opening movement ‘Pas trop lent’ recalled something of the dark mood of the Boulanger but quickly flowered into a breath-taking piano concerto, although Almonte, always discrete, never let the piano virtuosity take centre stage. The jocularity of the second movement was adroitly captured as was the delicacy of the slow third movement. The last movement was full of blazing flourishes, sometimes Lisztian, sometimes like Cesar Franck or even Brahms. Again the musical interplay between Sellers and Kadarauch was quite marvelous.This composition was an excellent choice, illustrating not only the group’s virtuosity but also their inherent musicianship and ensemble capabilities.
The Sutherland Trio is without doubt a fine ensemble – technically exceptional, musically mature and artistically adventurous. Their series program for next year, Playing on Words, looks every bit as enticing as this recital.
Concert: Sutherland Trio ‘Songs of the Night’ at Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre on September 25th 2013
- Caroline Almonte: piano
- Molly Kadarauch: cello
- Elizabeth Sellers: violin
- with Daniel Todd: tenor