Beethoven celebrated in ‘standout’ concert

Music / “Beethoven’s Back!”, Selby & Friends, Llewellyn Hall, October 31. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

WITH 2020 being the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig Van Beethoven, the Selby & Friends concert, “Beethoven’s Back!”, was an early and welcome nod towards a year of concerts in which this most popular of classical composers will most likely be featured.

Kathryn Selby is one of Australia’s most well-known and respected musicians. She studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia and earned her Master’s Degree from New York’s Juilliard School.

In her introduction to the concert, Selby amused the audience with her description of her childhood fantasy image of Beethoven as tall, handsome and dashing, only to be disappointed to discover later that this image did not match the reality of the man.

Joining Selby for this all Beethoven concert was Andrew Haveron, one of the most sought-after violinists of his generation. The highest British prize winner of the prestigious Paganini Competition for the last 50 years, he studied at the Purcell School and the Royal College of Music. He has performed with many of the UK’s finest orchestras as well as the famed Brodsky Quartet. In 2013, he took up his role as concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Also performing in this concert was the Australian cellist, Richard Narroway. A graduate of the Juilliard School and Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, Narroway enjoys a busy international career and is a passionate advocate of new music. In 2020, he will join the faculty of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music as a lecturer of cello.

The concert commenced with the Sonata for cello and piano in C major, Op. 102, No. 1. Composed in 1815, in the later period of Beethoven’s career, this work is in two movements. The opening dream-like andante was played with great sensitivity by Narroway and Selby, which was contrasted with their finely edgy and passionate playing of the allegro. The adagio of the second movement was haunting and reflective and led to a lively and well played finale.

In the second work, Sonata for violin and piano No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30 No. 2, written in 1801-02, violinist Andrew Haveron showed his mastery of his instrument throughout. The beautiful melody in the second movement’s adagio was especially well played by both musicians and the Scherzo was nimbly and skilfully played. The energetic playing of the finale brought the whole work to an enjoyable close.

After interval all three artists performed Beethoven’s Piano Trio in E-flat major, Op. 70 No. 2. Composed in 1808, it’s one of the most well-known of the composer’s chamber works. All four movements were performed extremely well. The playing of the second movement allegretto was a particular standout with each instrument seemingly vying for dominance in a playful and pleasing way that was a sheer delight to listen to. The rousing finale of the work was a fitting end to this excellent Beethoven concert.

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