Basically Beethoven Kathryn Selby & Friends

Manly Daily
May 14, 2014
by Steve Moffatt

City Recital Hall Angel Place, Tuesday May 13

Music is all about mathematics, but Beethoven just didn’t get it. How, then, do we account for his ability to write complicated fugues, some of which rival J. S. Bach in their complexity?

The answer is easy — the man was a genius. And this in a nutshell was what Kathryn Selby’s latest concert in her Friends series was all about.

She and violinist Susie Park and cellist Timo-Veikko Valve presented a program of four works from the three periods of Ludwig’s career — early, middle (or heroic) and late — in this lovely concert.

Appropriately Selby started with the piano trio in E Flat major, a juvenile work so early that it doesn’t have an opus number, composed when Beethoven was 20 and still heavily under the influence of his teacher, Joseph Haydn.

Even so there are hints of more to come, especially in the part for the cello which shows an independent voice, later to be developed even further.

Park and Valve were given the opportunity for some nice interplay above the sparkling piano lines.

Next up Park and Selby gave an excellent account of the Spring sonata Op 24, written 10 years later. Park, who grew up in Sydney before moving to America, first came to prominence as a 14-year-old when she borrowed a $50 fiddle from her teacher and won first prize at the Cracow Violin Competition in Poland.

The sonata’s lovely flowing opening melody ideally suited Park’s lyrical playing style and the noble adagio featured some fine piano work before the playful finale where each instruments chases the other like a pair of march hares.

Valve, principal cellist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, performed the last of Beethoven’s cello sonatas, written in his so-called ”late” period when he was profoundly deaf. After its declamatory opening, Valve managed to bring out the work’s moving intensity.

But the best was saved for last with the piano trio in E flat major Op 70 No. 2 — the less popular partner to the famed Ghost trio.

After the dreamy opening Selby’s love of Beethoven showed in every note. Her control of shifting dynamic, and her clear and precise articulation, were spot-on in the dazzling first and last movements, while there was some fine ensemble work in the restless middle movements where memorable tunes are suddenly interrupted by pauses.

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