Manly Daily: Czech Connection - S&F hit it off!

Selby and Friends hit it off with a night of Bohemian rhapsodies

  • STEVE MOFFATT
  • MANLY DAILY
  • JUNE 03, 2015 4:19PM
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Pianist Kathryn Selby’s latest tour is with violinist Andrew Haveron and cellist Timo-Vei

Pianist Kathryn Selby’s latest tour is with violinist Andrew Haveron and cellist Timo-Veikko Valve. Picture: Danielle Butters

The title of this latest tour by Selby and Friends was the Czech Connection, and while the German Mendelssohn and Austrian Schubert didn’t come from the land of Dvorak and Martinu they did at least have links to it.

For Schubert it was a summer at Count Esterhazy’s chateau in what is now Slovakia, teaching the daughters piano and singing to them. Mendelssohn travelled all over Europe and if you Google “Mendelssohn and Prague” you find a fascinating, but probably apocryphal, story about the notorious Nazi Reinhard Heydrich ordering his men to remove the Jewish composer’s statue from the roof of a concert hall.

Be that as it may, this delightful program with a Bohemian flavour worked from start to finish. Pianist Kathryn Selby was joined by two of Sydney’s finest in violinist Andrew Haveron, former leader of the British Brodsky Quartet and now a concertmaster for Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s principal cellist Timo-Veikko Valve.

 

The threesome sounded as if they had been playing together for years, so tight and nuanced was their ensemble playing throughout the evening.

 

The program started serenely with Schubert’s Notturno, one of those slow movements in which time seems to stand still. It is believed he wrote it for his first piano trio and later discarded it. Haveron and Valve’s finely balanced duet over Selby’s arpeggio accompaniment set the seal for an evening of superb musicianship.

A change of order worked well when they followed this gorgeous appetiser with Mendelssohn’s

Australian Chamber Orchestra principal cello Timo-Veikko Valve. Picture: Carly Earl

Australian Chamber Orchestra principal cello Timo-Veikko Valve. Picture: Carly Earl

Piano trio No. 1 in D minor Op 49, a work which prompted Schumann to describe the composer as “the Mozart of the 19th century”. Mendelssohn repaid the compliment by making the piano part more Schumannesque, especially in the final movement with its mood shifts and passionate moments.

Here again the three musicians worked together beautifully.

The reordering of works led to confusion as several people headed for the exits and a half-time drink. Ushered back in from the stage by Haveron, they found the wait was worth the extra few minutes for Bohuslav Martinu’s rarely heard Duo No. 1 for violin and cello brought the loudest cheer of the night.

Fiendishly difficult — or “quite hard” as Haveron described it with English understatement — this was a dazzling display of dual virtuosity with daredevil unison runs up and down the fingerboard, tricky rhythms and a long coda for cello superbly executed by Valve.

After interval Selby and Friends gave a rousing and well-focused account of Dvorak’s third piano trio, the most dramatic of the cycle of four and written shortly after his mother’s death.

It’s hard to imagine this work sounding better in live performance. As already stated, Selby, Haveron and Valve sound as if they’ve been playing together for years. Hopefully we will be hearing a lot more of them in concerts to come.

THE CZECH CONNECTION

● CONCERT: Selby and Friends

● WHERE: City Recital Hall Angel Place

● WHEN: Tuesday, June 3

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