Live Review: Benaud Trio

BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE

 

Musica Viva Tasmania
Benaud Trio
Works by Beethoven, Matthew Hindson, and Dvorak
Hobart Town Hall, 10 March 2015

 

Melbourne’s Benaud Trio, featuring Lachlan Bramble (violin), Amir Farid (piano), and Ewen Bramble (cello) brought an evening of mixed music to Hobart’s Town Hall for the opening of Musica Viva Tasmania’s 2015 season. The ornate chandeliers of the gorgeous hall weren’t dimmed for the performers, making for an unusually bright concert experience. The trio entered the stage looking suave in suits, white shirts, and black ties – more akin to the style of businessmen (or Reservoir Dogs) than classical musicians. They opened with Beethoven’s ‘Piano Trio in E flat, op. 1, no.1’ and filled my ears with what was perhaps the most delicately performed Beethoven I’d ever heard. As light a a feather, the work was played with incredible subtlety even through the more aggressive fourth movement – which, in itself, exuded greater power than the previous three, paying respect to the progression of the work as a whole.

Each member of the trio performed their independent lines with virtuosity. Even though they sounded tight, they made virtually no eye contact throughout the entire performance, which was a bit disconcerting. Still, despite this lack of visual communication, they were obviously connected in their own way as their Beethoven was expertly played.

The contrasting ‘Rush’ by Matthew Hindson followed and, from its flurried pizzicato opening to its catchy themes and big finish, it was as exciting as violinist Lachlan Bramble had boasted in the program notes. The brightness of the work suited the ensemble – though, the presence was at times lost to the acoustics of the hall and the sound came across as washy. However, this didn’t affect my enjoyment of a magnificently performed work.

After interval, the trio tuned up for Dvorak’s ‘Piano Trio no. 3 in F minor, op. 65’. With the audience descending into silence and the musicians holding their instruments at the ready, the moment was broken by the perfectly timed chime of the city’s clock tower bells. It was worth a good giggle. When the piece finally began, it became clear that the ensemble’s former subtleties were a sign of their versatility rather than mark of their style, as all lightness was eliminated for this impassioned piece. Dvorak’s typically bold Eastern European themes felt energised. I’d have liked the ‘Poco Adagio’ to have been a little more drawn out to allow utter indulgence in the emotional melody – but the ensemble knew better than to approach the work with over-sentimentality. The ‘Finale: Allegro con brio’ led into what appeared a tranquil conclusion before the surprisingly abrupt ‘real’ big finish.

The Benaud Trio returned on the stage after final applauds for an encore of Ben Folds’ ‘The Luckiest’. The contemporary arrangement suited the cello and violin well and was a perfect way to wind down after an evening full of stimulating work.

 

Image: The Benaud Trio.

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