Why change a winning formula when it keeps up this quality?

Sydney Morning Herald
October 17, 2012
by Harriet Cunningham

City Recital Hall Angel Place,  Monday, October 15

Classy artists, repertoire well-worth revisiting and a few surprises: it is not a new formula, but it works brilliantly for Kathryn Selby, who is preparing for her seventh year of Selby and Friends subscription concerts in 2013.

In the final concert for 2012, two old friends, violinist Natsuko Yoshimoto and cellist Emma-Jane Murphy joined Selby for a program of gutsy classics.

The concert got off to a faltering start with Mozart’s Violin Sonata No. 26 in B flat major, K. 378. The piano very much dominated proceedings. Selby’s playing was the main attraction, full of space and sparkle, thoroughly outshining the violin.

Balance was restored in Beethoven’s Trio in G major Op. 1 No.2. From the warm but authoritative chords of the opening, this was a confident interpretation by equals. Yoshimoto warmed to the task of leading the demanding first movement, developing an authoritative calm for an emotionally restrained, beautifully measured second movement. The ensemble hit form in the scherzo, with Murphy’s gorgeous clear tone laying the foundations, built on with grace and energy by piano and violin. The finale was thrilling.

Norwegian composer Johan Halvorsen’s Passacaglia in G minor is hard to resist, especially when played by artists of the calibre of Yoshimoto and Murphy. The work is a dazzling display of virtuosity ranged over the comforting progress of an eight-bar passacaglia. The two played with casual brilliance, nailing the notes but above all enjoying the music.

The finale, Smetana’s Trio in G minor, Op. 15, showed off the strengths of all three performers. Yoshimoto dug up a searing opening melody, answered by Murphy and Selby with a luxurious, power sound. Beyond the sound, however, was the sense of spontaneity about their phrasing, at once individual but with each new gesture responding to the previous one.

This is what live performance is all about: music that, whatever its age, always feels like it is being invented in real time.

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