Trio Dali – Forging a name at home and abroad

Forging a name at home and abroad
Philip O’Brien, Canberra Times
23 May 2012

Amandine Savary

There’s an old French saying, “Nul n’est prophete en son pays”. It’s the same as in English – “no one is a prophet in their own country”. In fact, it’s a universal phenomenon, but it still makes young French pianist Amandine Savary, a member of the exciting Paris-based ensemble Trio Dali, smile wryly.

“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.

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Welcome to Musica Viva’s International Concert Season blog. Here you can follow and read more about our wonderful touring artists.

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