press reviews

Music and art combined

The Canberra Times
May 16, 2011
Review by Jennifer Gall

Emerald Crossing Selby and Friends at the National Gallery of Australia

Selby and Friends played to a nearly full house at the gallery - a great thing to see when there are competing music events. I'm afraid that I did not find the two opening works at all engaging. After the appealing opening shivering bowing patterns of Rachmaninov's Trio Elegiaque No 1 in G Minor, the composition fails to develop from the indulgently lush G minor melodic exchanges and repetitive descending sequences shared between the string parts. The non-resonant piano did nothing to assist the performance. Similarly, Ross Edwards's Emerald Crossing sounded flimsy, its spacious, minimalist compositional style offering little for the full-blooded musicianship that the ensemble brought into play in the following Mozart Piano Quartet No 1 in G minor and the glorious Schumann Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op.47.

Originally deemed too hard for performance in a domestic context, Mozart's Piano Quartet No 1 was unpopular when it was first brought to public attention in 1785. Hearing Selby and Friends play the work, it is difficult to imagine how the quartet could have been so easily dismissed. Selby's technique was at its most shining here, with delicate yet sparkling runs, strong yet springy rhythm and perfect dynamic control. Niki Vasilakis on violin, Emma Jayne Murphy on cello and Yvette Goodchild produced warm, united passages and played supportive accompaniments for each other's leading melodies.

Schumann's E flat Piano Quartet, to me, is filled with compassion. This was an outstanding performance that showcased the humour, technical and emotional strengths of the musicians.