Morgenstern Trio & Christopher Moore reviewed in Sydney Morning Herald
Melody and spirit make up for hazardous moments
April 25, 2013
Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald
Mahler’s Piano Quartet movement in A minor is a short but intense student work, written at age 16, showing precocious gravitation towards tristesse and tragedy. Not yet present is the starkness of contrast to set this mood off against irony or terror, nor the genius for formal drama of his symphonies. The string players of the Morgenstern Trio established expressive earnestness right from the start, playing with smooth balance and good pitch until the violin cadenza.
In Beethoven’s Trio in E flat, Opus 70, No.2, their playing had commitment and moments of unfettered spirit, and the tempo of the first movement was persuasive, allowing for passages of grace. The second was more emphatic and less consistent, and from here until the interval the instrumental and tonal control was varied.
Ross Edwards’ Piano Trio is related to his Guitar Concerto, Arafura Dances, for the Darwin International Guitar Festival, and in the program for the Trio, Edwards wrote that he had in mind “sunlight sparkling on the Arafura Sea”. The Trio was written for the Melbourne Chamber Music Competition but sunlight sparkling on the Yarra sounds less probable. In pre-concert talk, Edwards was more candid, admitting that when writing the Trio he probably didn’t give the sparkling Arafura Sea a moment’s thought. The work features an expansive slow movement and closes with a dance-like finale in Edwards’ Maninya, ending abruptly, even prematurely.
For Schumann’s tautly scored, expansively structured Piano Quartet in E flat major, Opus 74, the trio was joined by violist Christopher Moore. The fleetness of the scherzo (the second movement) was not without hazards of ensemble, but Schumann’s melody had warmth and broad appeal.