Concert Review: Selby and Friends ‘Basically Beethoven’

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Basically Beethoven.

Selby and friends, 13th May 2014.

 Pianist Kathryn Selby with violinist Susie Park and cellist Timo-Veikko Valve  performed a well-balanced program of Beethoven’s chamber music with works from each of his compositional periods. The concert began with an early Piano Trio in E flat major, WoO 38, composed in 1791 just before Beethoven left Bonn for Vienna. In this work it is evident the piano has the most dominant role, with violin and cello adding brief dialogues. 

The next work on the program was the well-known and loved Sonata for Piano and Violin in F major, Op. 24 “Spring”. Composed in 1800-1801, towards the end of Beethoven’s classical period, the work offers both instruments to be equal partners. Here the powerful playing by Kathryn Selby was sensitively coupled with expressive playing by Susie Park. 

The Sonata for Cello and Piano in D major, Op. 102, No. 2 was composed in 1815 at a time when Beethoven was suffering illness and increasing deafness. Consolation and more solemn works dominated this period of composition. In each of the five sonatas for cello and piano, Beethoven treated the cello as a solo instrument, a role not given lightly until then. In this, his final sonata for cello and piano, Beethoven is finally able to write a full-length slow movement. While in the earlier cello sonatas Beethoven only wrote brief slow introductions to another faster movement. Timo-Veikko Valve – principal cello of the Australian Chamber Orchestra – played with warm, expressive tone and a wide dynamic range.

 The program culminated with the stirring Piano Trio in E flat Major, Op. 70 No. 2. Composed in 1808 during Beethoven’s Heroic period along with a number of other chamber works. The four-movement work has complex harmonic relationships, but does not exhaust the listener. Each movement is full of bright and happy tunes, but the constant interchange of these ideas adds a sense of restlessness throughout the whole work. In the final movement Susie and Timo-Veikko enjoyed unison tunes – a moment of repose – before returning to the dramatic play unfolding. 

A well crafted performance from three very individual soloists. 

Alison Evans for SoundsLikeSydney© 

Alison Evans is a freelance bassoon player, teacher and chamber music performer with the Sirius Chamber Ensemble. She holds post-graduate degrees in music performance and is currently completing her doctorate at the University of Sydney. 

SoundsLikeSydney accepts no fee for reviews.

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