Kathy Selby piano
Sophie Rowell violin
Llewellyn Hall 22
Reviewed by Len Power
Wartime conflict and how it impacted on three composers was the theme for the Selby & Friends concert, “In the Shadow of War”. Artistic director and pianist, Kathy Selby, was joined by Sophie Rowell on violin and Timo-Veikko Valve on cello to play three works by Australia’s Matthew Hindson, Russia’s Dimitri Shostakovich and Austria’s Franz Schubert.
Matthew Hindson’s work, “1915”, composed in 2015, was motivated by the thought of how a young person living 100 years before might face the prospect of going to war. There has long been an impression that young Australian men in that era were keen to enlist for what seemed likely to be the patriotic and glorious adventure of a lifetime.
Hindson’s composition avoids any of the jingoism and focusses instead on the more personal thoughts of a soldier leaving behind his loved ones and the comforts of home and facing the unknown. It’s a quietly powerful, melancholy and reflective work of great beauty. The trio of musicians gave it a performance of great sensitivity.
From its haunting opening passage on the cello, the work is constantly changeable, creating a mood of emotional highs and lows. Almost alarming frenzied passages give way to sombre and quietly reflective moments, leading to the “Dance Of Death” final movement with its Jewish-style melody. This challenging work was superbly played by the trio, bringing out all of the powerful emotion in the music.
Franz Schubert’s Piano Trio in E-flat Major, Op.100, was one of the last compositions completed by Schubert in 1827. The delicate main theme of the second movement, based on a Swedish folk song, is instantly recognized from its use in many movies, including Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon”. In their playing, the trio brought out all of the sensitivity and beauty underlying this great work.
An introduction to the works by each of the performers is always a feature of a Selby & Friends concert. It adds a welcome dimension to the works and creates a personal engagement between audience and performer.
This review was first published in the Canberra CityNews digital edition of 23 August 2022.
Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.