Selby hones a sharper Edge

The Age
July 06, 2012
by Clive O'Connell

BMW Edge, Federation Square, July 4

THIS year, Kathryn Selby has moved her five-part recital series from the cosy ambience of Melba Hall to the glass-and-metal BMW Edge auditorium.

She has made the most of this new performance space, using a wall of high screens to reflect sound straight to the audience, much the same method as the Australian National Academy of Music adopted in the large South Melbourne Town Hall.

The results make for agreeable listening, Selby's piano still a resonant presence yet somehow more evenly balanced with her colleagues than in former times.

For Tuesday's program, a catch-all miscellany that moved from Schumann to Australian writer Andrew Schultz, cellist Julian Smiles put in one of his three appearances for the 2012 series.

The presence of his associate from the Australia Ensemble, clarinettist Catherine McCorkill, opened up the night's repertoire, most notably in a splendid reading of the Brahms Clarinet Trio which, along with a masterly realisation of some short bagatelles by Bruch, showed these players' experience in chamber music work at its best: confident interweaving of lines, carefully graded dynamic levels, phrasing shaped for sense rather than effect.

Up close, the piano sounded much less brittle than in the organisation's previous recital in May, the give-and-take of Schumann's Marchenerzahlungen particularly successful in passages of foregrounding for McCorkill's subtle arches.

Alongside Debussy's Premiererhapsodie and Schultz's After Nina, the night gained in variety from Cage's early Sonata for Clarinet and Faure's Elegie, all serving to display the clarity and finesse attainable in this underused, undervalued room.

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