Trio’s recital comes close to perfection
Neville Cohn, The West Australian
1 June 2012
All too rarely, one encounters a performance of a work which is a near-perfect assessment of the music. That was the case in Trio Dali‘s account of Schubert’s Piano Trio No 2. By even the most severe of criteria, the Dali musicians’ reading of this much-loved work came as close to perfection as one could ever hope. Each of the three young musicians is a master and, as an ensemble, they have an extraordinary ability to abandon their individuality in favour of a corporate music persona that makes magic of whatever it touches.
Certainly, the Dali musicians’ mastery of their instruments frees them to focus on interpretative aspects. Thus, the poignancy that is central to the second movement, the blithe geniality of the scherzo and the insouciance that is the essence of the finale were revealed with faultless artistry.
I wished the performance would go on forever. I shall not easily forget this insightful account of a glorious chamber work. But this was only one of a cornucopia of musical treasures on offer. Gordon Kerry’s Piano Trio No 2 is fascinating fare written with profound understanding of the medium. On first encounter, it comes across as exquisitely wrought music redolent of anguish, anxiety and melancholyy, I’d very much like to listen to it again.
Ravel’s Piano Trio, too, was given the sort of insightful reading that critics dream about but only very rarely encounter. This is pitilessly demanding music requiring Olympian qualities of mind and muscle to bring it across to listeners in a meaningful sense and Trio Dali was just the ensemble to achieve this. It was a glorious offering not least for quality and range of tone. The Concert Hall piano sounded magnificent in the hands of Amandine Savary and the cello theme played by Christian-Pierre La Marca early in the second movement was achingly beautiful, as was every contribution by violinist Vineta Sareika.
Trio Dali returns to Sydney today, where they will perform the final concert of their Australian tour tomorrow. It’s been an eventful tour for the young trio – as well as performances and masterclasses they’ve witnessed a Rugby League match, been to a wildlife park, experienced Melbourne’s nightlife, watched a concert at the Sydney Opera House, and more! To top it all off, Christian-Pierre celebrated his birthday in Adelaide. The local committee took the Trio out for dinner after their concert and even surprised ‘Crispy’, as Christian-Pierre is known to his friends, with a birthday cake.
If all this sounds like they’re having too much fun, audience and critical responses have been positive throughout the tour. We wish the Trio safe travels home and every success for the future.
Tomas Boot, artsHub
Friday, May 25, 2012
This critic often tries to find some sort of angle to explore when talking about the various concerts he submits to his review. Often he’ll comment on an eccentricity of a musician, or a quirk of a fellow audience member, or an entertaining piece of trivia where the music is concerned. But there was none of that at Musica Viva’s latest concert, featuring the French group Trio Dali, consisting of violinst Vineta Sareika, cellist Christian-Pierre La Marca, and pianist Amandine Savary. There were, however, flowers on stage – which there hadn’t been when Andreas Haefliger gave his recital under the aegis of the Sydney Symphony, but not being a botanist, or even botanically inclined, apart from buying the pretty things for the various people in one’s life, I have little to say about them. Not that one needed to look at the flowers at all during the evening, as listening to the beautiful music on offer got rid of any need for the other senses.
We began with Gordon Kerry’s Im Winde (Piano Trio no 2) from 2000. For those of you who don’t understand German, you may be inclined to think that the piece is a poorly punctuated statement of the relative flatulence of the composer compared to others, but, most unfortunately, this isn’t the case; rather the title translates to ‘In the Wind’, taken from a poem by the great German Romantic (according to Kerry in his program notes) Friedrich Holderlin. He quotes a section of the poem too: “Die Mauern stehn/Sprachlos und kalt, im Winde/Klirren die Fahnen,” (‘The walls stand/speechless and cold, and in the wind/the weathervanes clatter’) which Kerry takes to mean that the poet is describing a “sense of tears in all things”. And that is certainly what he has achieved in his work. The piece begins its life as something very brittle, and only later does it begin to warm up, though it never quite gets there, like trying to heat your hands by a fire while standing in a gale. Trio Dali were most successful when playing the quieter, more delicate moments, after a particularly warm section – the happy tension of all good quiet music was present, and was most welcome to this critic’s ears.
Next came Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor, which was played with pure mastery by the Trio. The Ravel felt similar to the Kerry piece beforehand, if only because it seemed like what Im Winde would have been like if someone hadn’t thrown acid on the score – where Im Winde was concentrated bursts, the Ravel was much more lush. Again the players managed the quieter moments with great aplomb – the slowest movement (Passacaille (Tres large)) of the four in the trio being one of the highlights, which is always a good sign. Like all good pieces of this nature, one didn’t want any of the movements to end, and when it did, one was quite satisfied with life, humanity, and eternity. Dali’s ability to maintain the clarity of phrasing over extended periods was on show especially in this piece.
And yet, there was an interval, and Schubert’s Piano Trio no 2 in E flat major, op 100 was to come, and come it did, with all the advantages displayed by Trio Dali in the previous two pieces. While this critic preferred the Ravel, and indeed, would have been completely satisfied to leave the concert after it had finished, he was nonetheless struck by not only the immensity of the 45 minute work, but the coherence that the three musicians were able to give the piece as a whole, their rendition momentously sublime. The audience, wildly appreciative, demanded an encore, and the slow movement of Dvorak’s Dumky trio was played, again to much applause. Astounding.
Clive O’Connell, The Age
May 24, 2012
Making every post a winner, the Trio Dali is touring Australia with one program only but playing it with such mastery that even this hoary chamber music veteran is tempted to go back on Saturday to hear the recital again.
Newcomers to the Musica Viva stable, the ensemble is one of the best finds in this field for 2012.
The full impact of their character builds slowly. These young players avoid the flashy by starting with Gordon Kerry’s Im Winde of 2000, a 10-minute span of colours applied with subtle pointillism, as well as daubed on with momentary vehemence. The reading showed a keen appreciation of the composer’s language: wiry athleticism allied to emotional control in a short work well worth re-examining.
Having her piano open on the short stick meant that Amandine Savary brought an unexpected alteration in balance to the Ravel Piano Trio, in which the keyboard often washes out its string colleagues, particularly in the massive chord washes of the finale. Across these familiar pages, the Dali musicians exercised an unwavering control without over-egging the spikiness of the second movement’s interplay or the dour brooding in the central Passacaille.
But the trio moved onto an even higher plane in the Schubert E flat Trio, here outlined at reasonable length although, in readings with this level of insight, repeats would have been welcome. Pliability of rhythm, near-faultless interweaving of lines from Vineta Sareika’s violin and cellist Christian-Pierre La Marca, and an unabashed volubility made this a valuable experience.
Trio Dali travels to Perth today following concerts in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra in the week just gone. Their program of Ravel, Kerry and Schubert has been enchanting audiences around Australia so far.
Gordon Kerry has been attracting particular attention lately, not only as Musica Viva’s Featured Composer for 2012, but with the recent premiere of his opera Midnight Son for Victorian Opera. Gordon spoke to Andrew Ford on the Music Show recently and you can replay the interview here.
The Trio has also given masterclasses in Sydney and Melbourne, at the Theme and Variations Piano Showroom, Sydney Conservatorium and ANAM.
If you haven’t made it to one of the Trio’s concerts you can listen online at ABC Classic FM.
Forging a name at home and abroad
Philip O’Brien, Canberra Times
23 May 2012
“It wasn’t until we went abroad that we were finally recognised in France,” she says. A much-travelled ensemble, Trio Dali will extend their international experience when they tour Australia this month for Musica Viva, with a program of works by Ravel, Schubert and Australian Gordon Kerry.
Trio Dali will perform in the Llewellyn Hall of the ANU School of Music on Thursday at 7pm. The group comprises Savary, violinist Vineta Sareika and cellist Christian-Pierre La Marca. They take their name not from the surrealist artist, Salvador Dali, but from Dali city, in China’s Yunnan province, famous for its exquisite marble. It was the idea of sculpting a piece of marble to create Forging a name at home and abroad something fresh and new that reminded them of their common approach to music.
They discovered they shared a similar vision when they met as soloists at a festival in Santander, Spain, five years ago. “We didn’t even play together that time but became friends very quickly,” Savary recalls. “A year later, we were invited to the same festival. We were living in three different countries and just wanted to see each other again and share music.” The ensemble evolved from there.
In those five years, they have performed across Europe, the Middle East, the US and Asia. Trio Dali has also won major prizes in international chamber music competitions in Osaka, Frankfurt, New York, Vienna and London. Savary says she and the other group members were not daunted by the European tradition of the piano trio. “We don’t want to repeat what has gone before. We’re certainly aware of other interpretations but we try not to be influenced by them. We want to approach each piece of music with fresh eves and create our own vision of it.”
Two of the compositions they will be performing in Australia – Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor and Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major – are works they’ve performed many times and with which they’ve come to be identified. “Very early on, we agreed that the Schubert Piano Trio shows the two sides to his music and his personality,” Savary says. “There’s the serious Schubert, suffering a serious illness, who is deep and full of drama. And there’s the lighter Schubert, going to cafes in Vienna and enjoying life.”
The challenge of playing this piece and the Ravel so often is in keeping the performances fresh, she says. Each time we play the Ravel, we try to start again and approach it in a different way. We always like to reconsider our interpretation; every time we play it, we find new ideas.”
The third work in their program – Gordon Kerry’s Piano Trio No. 2 (Im Winde) – has been a revelation for them. “We weren’t familiar with his work at all. This piece is very beautiful; it’s so full of colours,” Savary says. “There is something in it that seems inspired by French music.” As such, she was not surprised to learn that Gordon Kerry is a Francophile. “You can feel it. It is so full of air and transparency; the colours are very well defined.”
Savary has been quoted as saying her role as pianist in the trio is one of “making the balance”, providing a unity of sound. But she is quick to point out, “There is no leader in our group. “We are three musicians with one common purpose.”
In preparing works for performance, the members of Trio Dali study the historical and musical background to each piece, but prefer to play on modern rather than period instruments. For Savary, for example in the Schubert Piano Trio, that means playing on a concert Steinway grand piano rather than a smaller
fortepiano. “You have to live within your time,” she says. “Music evolves and modern instruments offer a
range of possibilities that enable us to continue that evolution. But, in the end, whatever the period, music always speaks to the heart.”
Europe’s financial crisis has had a noticeable effect on performance there, she says. Many festivals have died and for others that have survived, audiences have dwindled. What’s more, festival and concert producers are anxious to retain the audiences they have so they’re favouring better-known artists and more popular repertoires. Not that the members of Trio Dali have to worry: in addition to their many performances as an ensemble, they maintain parallel careers as solo artists. “It provides us with a nice
balance,” Savary says. We have the opportunity to learn from other people and experiences and
bring these back to the group.”
She and La Marca now live in Paris, while Sareika divides her time between the French capital and the Belgian city of Antwerp. And even after all their touring, they’re still good friends, she says. “We’re usually together for short, intensive periods. Australia, being so far away from Europe, is not somewhere we would normally visit. But touring there for a month will be a rare experience for us.” And for audiences, too.
Transcendent trio paint a beautiful picture
Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald
May 23, 2012
In the last movement of his Piano Trio in E flat, Opus 100, Schubert creates the most enigmatic moment from the simplest of ideas, ushering back, into this sprawling finale of high spirited cheer, the exquisitely melancholy theme of his second movement.
Beethoven had sometimes referred to earlier movements just before the finale but not with such inner, personal intent. Whether this is a reference to the words of the Swedish song on which the tune, according to one anecdote, is based (“the sun is going down” – meaning the trio is about to end), a deeply personal association, or just because Schubert liked it remains a mystery.
Whatever its significance, Trio Dali made it an intensely special moment, like a sad thought that won’t go away, even in moments of happiness.
Part of its special impact was due to the memory of their stunningly beautiful performance earlier of the second movement itself, with phrases shaded with subtle tenderness, and the greatest sensitivity to comely shape and nuance.
Pianist Amandine Savary established the quiet march with hushed precision, while cellist Christian-Pierre La Marca projected the main idea with haunting distinctiveness but no ostentation.
This group is notable for the way three highly individual musical personalities come together with shared focus and common conception, and for the brilliant precision and clarity with which they articulate this.
Earlier in the slow third movement of Ravel’s Piano Trio, they had handed the quiet theme from bass to treble like a sacred thought, violinist Vineta Sareika breathing life into it to sustain the line over many phrases. The first movement was clear in texture but veiled and dreamy in mood, while the second and the last were brilliantly incisive.
Gordon Kerry’s Im Winde (Piano Trio No.2), taking its title from a Holderlin poem, starts off in fragmentary gestures, with some thoughts broken off and others flying into the ether, before warmer more consolidated music establishes itself.
Trio Dali have a capacity to follow ideas through with such commitment that the trajectory continues beyond the end of a phrase, and this animated Kerry’s elusive music with aspiration, yearning and inner life.
Trio Dali impresses on debut
Murray Black, The Australian
May 22, 2012
On its debut Musica Viva tour, the youthful Trio Dali closed its concert with an outstanding performance of one of Schubert’s late masterpieces: the second piano trio.
Sustaining excellent tempo and dynamic control, well-integrated ensemble sound and tight-knit blend, the group achieved the right interpretative combination of strength, poise and vulnerability which marks Schubert’s late works.
The concert’s first half comprised Ravel’s piano trio and Im Winde by Musica Viva’s featured composer Gordon Kerry.
Although speeds were fast in the Ravel trio, the group’s controlled approach ensured it was thoughtfully paced in order to sustain textural clarity and timbral refinement.
By contrast, Kerry’s Im Winde is a hard-edged, almost forbidding work. Trio Dali brilliantly essayed its challenging twists and turns and effortlessly realised its rapidly changing contrasts in mood and dynamics.
Sometimes mistakes just happen. And so it was that the page-turner Musica Viva had booked for Trio Dali’s Sydney concert last night accidentally wrote the wrong date in his diary. Hasty phone-calls were made; Musica Viva staff huddled in the foyer thinking of people who may be able to step in at short notice. Finally, Director of Business Development, Concerts, Tim Matthies, agreed to take on the task. After a brief chat with pianist Amandine and a quick glance at the scores everyone was ready to walk on stage. The first half of the concert went off without a hitch and by the second half the original page-turner had arrived, apologising profusely. Amandine appeared unfazed by the ordeal and the audience, some of whom were puzzled by the new page-turner after interval but otherwise unaware of the situation, was enraptured by the Trio’s performance. The Trio performed the second movement of Dvořák’s ‘Dumky’ Trio as an encore, as they explained in the post-concert Q&A, because they “just love it”.
The post-concert Q&A drew out several other interesting responses from the Trio. When asked how they achieve such beautiful pianissimos they replied they focus on character and colour rather than dynamic. For example, when the Trio studied with Augustin Dumay he likened the opening of the fourth movement of Schubert’s Piano Trio no 2 to shaving, saying the character should be just as straight-forward and carefree.
Tonight Trio Dali performs in Melbourne. If you can’t be there, you can hear the broadcast live on ABC Classic FM from 7pm.
Trio Dali find themselves in Sydney today, where they will perform at City Recital Hall Angel Place tonight. The young trio has been in Australia for just over a week and has already performed in Hobart, where they were disappointed to see no Tasmanian devils, Newcastle, where Amandine was introduced to Stuart pianos at a lively post-concert event, and Coffs Harbour, where they received a rare standing ovation.
Vineta and Christian-Pierre came into Musica Viva’s Sydney office on Friday afternoon to meet the staff and enjoy a glass of wine. They joked that Amandine is the most serious member of the trio – whenever the string players have free time, Amandine is searching for a piano to practise on, and even on Friday night she went to the Theme and Variations showroom in Willoughby to give a masterclass. Vineta, on the other hand, looked forward to seeing the Sydney Symphony perform after drinks with staff, with Christian-Pierre undecided between also experiencing a concert at the Opera House or heading back to his hotel to rest.
The Trio is in Australia until early June, with performances in Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Adelaide still to come