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Concert review: Sitkovetsky Trio (Musica Viva)

Live Reviews - Classical Music

Concert review: Sitkovetsky Trio (Musica Viva)

by Hoang Pham on March 26, 2014 (March 26, 2014) filed under Classical Music | Comment Now
Brit Trio conquer Melbourne with Czech and Russian fare, plus Carl Vine's 60th birthday present.

Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre

March 25, 2014

On Tuesday evening the Sitkovetsky Trio performed an exemplary recital at the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall in front of a large and attentive audience beginning with a virtuosic and exciting account of the Smetana Piano Trio in G Minor.

Right from the opening violin solo, Alexander Sitkovetsky’s playing was superb as was Leonard Elschenbroich’s contribution on cello. Together with fine support from Wu Qian on piano, the trio produced some glorious playing in the opening exchanges and animated the developmental material and climactic moments with a lucid and elegant virtuosity. In the lyrical second subject of the first movement and the Andante of the second, the violin and cello playing was stunningly beautiful with a natural rubato that made Elschenbroich’s exchanges with Sitkovetsky a constant delight all evening. In the finale, the trio was impressive with tempos that always pushed forward with ardour but with striking clarity in Qian’s challenging piano part.

Next on the program was Carl Vine’s new Piano Trio titled The Village, an impressive composition that will be a valuable addition to the piano trio repertoire. The Sitkovetskys gave a fine account that attempts to re-imagine the architectural aspect of composition. Done away with are the large-scale sectional divisions of exposition, development and recapitulation but instead, musical ideas are allowed to interact and transform with greater freedom. This new way of composing gives the sense of constant variation without the reference to just one theme or bass line. Vine’s new work is grateful and challenging for the performers. The music develops so organically and constantly, little by little, that the transition from the quieter moments to the fiery ending is almost imperceptible.

After interval, the group launched into the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio in A Minor. This is a demanding work that requires a high level of physical stamina from the musicians and an emotional delivery that, much like the zooming lenses of a high quality camera, is able to illuminate both the finer and larger scale details – from the music box-like piano part of Variation 5 of the second movement to the sweeping landscape of the first movement’s exposition. 

Like in the Smetana, Sitkovetsky’s exchanges with Elschenbroich in the Adagio of the first movement (the movement’s highpoint and actual recapitulation) was particularly touching.  Here was beautiful sustained lyrical playing with long lines and amicable support from Qian’s piano. In the second movement, Sitkovetsky navigated the capricious violin part of Variation 2 with sparkle, as did Qian in her dashing account of Variation 3. There was some delightful playing in the Valse of Variation 6, and a robust performance of Variation 8 where the fugal elements were carefully organised and delivered with panache.

In the Finale and Coda, played in the abridged version without the development section, the musicians revelled in a fiery exchange of instrumental flair. The virtuosity that characterised their playing in the brisk moments of the Smetana returned here with great effect. The Melbourne audience gave the Sitkovetsky Trio a rare standing ovation.

The Sitkovetsky Trio is on national tour with Musica Viva until April 10.