Carl Vine on Trio Dali
It’s easy to imagine that every young child who learns a musical instrument harbours, at some point in their lives, vivid fantasies of becoming an internationally famous virtuoso. Only a small proportion of them, naturally enough, will ever develop the high level of skill required to succeed in such a rarefied profession, and an even smaller proportion will possess the peculiar temperament that can tolerate the incredibly lonely lifestyle of a permanently itinerant solo performer.
The world of chamber music is peppered with wonderful musicians who have tried their hand at the soloist’s trade, and either found the lifestyle too torturous, or failed to find satisfaction by standing, every night, in front of a new, completely unknown, troupe of orchestral musicians, trying to play the same concerto over and over again, better and brighter than anyone else.
Enter chamber ensembles – most particularly string quartets and piano trios – that can forge extremely satisfying collective careers spanning decades, by travelling around with a small number of their closest friends, dwelling day after day inside some of the grandest musical inventions of the human mind. Although the material rewards are nowhere near as generous, the personal and musical rewards are massive.
The best chamber music groups are not created simply by putting the most virtuosic soloists together in a room – as has been discovered to the occasional surprise of patrons at some of the world’s most prestigious music festivals. For chamber music demands, even more than phenomenal technique and individual brilliance, a perfectly shared aesthetic, and utter accord in seeking mutual musical excellence.
As we so often find with groups that tour for Musica Viva, the members of Trio Dali discovered their artistic commonality quite by accident. After a period of wondering what to do with this unexpected gift, they all agreed to sacrifice substantial chunks of their burgeoning independent solo careers to develop the musical magic unique to chamber music performance. Three young virtuosi set out explicitly to form an outstanding group based on mutual respect, and love of the piano trio form.
None of the players was previously familiar with the music of our Featured Composer for 2012, Gordon Kerry, but they discovered immediate points of resonance in his second piano trio, ‘Im Winde’. They are attracted equally by its colour, atmosphere and architecture, and look forward to adding it to their growing catalogue of music by living composers with whom they’ve worked at first hand.
Ravel’s Piano Trio (1914), on the other hand, has been part of the group’s repertoire from the start, and they consider it one of the great masterpieces of the genre. Their recent performance of it at the 2012 Haydn Competition in Vienna was declared the ‘Best Interpretation of a Piece from the 20th Century’. The group’s other most favoured work is Schubert’s second piano trio (op. 100) that closes the concert program, giving a solid glimpse of the full spectrum of the trio’s repertoire.