Kathryn Selby and Torleif Thedeen give Swedish delight

The Manly Daily
September 17, 2014
by Steve Moffatt

City Recital Hall Angel Place, Tuesday September 16

The story goes that composer Edvard Grieg, who was very short, used to get so carried away playing the piano that occasionally he would fall off his chair.

Happily this didn’t happen when pianist Kathryn Selby performed the great Norwegian’s cello sonata with Swedish cellist Torleif Theeden, but the passion and excitement were certainly there.

This blockbusting piece — full of swirling Romantic emotions and thunderous arpeggios, with a lovely folk-like slow movement in between — brought to a fitting climax the wide-ranging program for tour four of the Selby & Friends season.

The concert opened with an unusual world premiere — a terrific piece by Australian clarinetist-composer Paul Dean which was commissioned by the S&F audience. Three intimate interludes is a harrowing single-movement work which plots the harrowing breakdown of a relationship and its aftermath of anger, grief and emotional dislocation.

It opens with Deception, furious spitting cello passages over strident piano chords, and moved straight into Dissection with some angry back and forth between the two instruments, before diminishing into Isolation and ending on a lonely and chilling sustained note on the cello.

The overall feel is disturbing — reminiscent of Shostakovich or Schnittke — not so much for the notes or form but for the almost tangible pain it conveys.

The mood lightened with Beethoven’s G minor sonata Op 5 No.2 — one of his earliest published works which shows remarkable maturity.

Thedeen’s beautiful lines, precision and control in attack, intonation and dynamic were a feature.

He is a cellist from the top drawer, both as a soloist and as a chamber musician, and has an impressive discography and list of collaborations with the likes of violin superstars Julian Rachlin and Janine Jansen.

The other work in this excellent concert, and a personal favourite of this reviewer, was Debussy’s sonata for cello and piano.

The composer had not got long to live when he wrote it but you wouldn’t think so from the joyous moments that shine through the great Impressionist’s misty harmonies.

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