‘FINAL OFFERING’ : SELBY AND FRIENDS ONLINE CONCERT

Above : artists contributing to this concert and event films (l to r) : Timo-Veikko Valve, Susie Park, Stefanie Ferrands and Kathryn Selby.

Selby and Friends ends a very resilient and resourceful 2020 with a full length concert of works for piano trio and quartet. Kathryn Selby leads her special guests artists in candid, interesting discussions about the music, what it gives the player and listener, history and performance technique.

Filmed in the empty City Recital Hall this is one of the more comfortable and clear streams I have seen for some time. Camera work in this concert of Schubert, Shostakovich and Schumann gives an even amount of exposure to all players. It make use of excellent angles, close ups and wide shots to make us feel we are part of a packed live venue.

Amidst this programme’s beautifully undulating contrasts a highlight for me was the chilling central presence of the Shostakovich Piano Trio No 2 in E minor Op 67. The expression of cultural and human loss and impossible predicament which inspired the sparse, sprawling landscape of this composition resonates well for our times.

The musicians displayed their consummate affinity with this composer’s deeply emotional agenda. restrained electricity of their attention to detail as well as multi-layered ensemble and solo techniques.

Kathryn Selby gave us poignant keyboard statements in the slow movement of this work, and Timo-Veikko Valve’s haunting, ethereal cello opening to this work reached us with penetrating pathos even via the medium of streaming.

Shostakovich bare and loaded melodic and textural lines were handled with delicate finesse and exacting synchronicity between this cellist and companion string player, violinist Susie Park.

Shostakovich’s hectic scherzo movement with its horrific caricatures was in good, exuberant hands with this trio. It was also a moment of much chemistry and pyrotechnic directness, well captured for this online stream.

Above : Piano quartet format to play Schumann : (l to r) Susie Park, Kathryn Selby,  Stefanie Ferrands and Timo-Veikko Valve.

Bookending such an emotional outpouring of desolation and decimation from Shostakovich and this ensemble were two gems of the chamber music canon.

Stepping down a semitone to the key of E flat major, both the Schubert ‘Notturno’ single movement work and Schumann’s Piano Quartet Op 47 filled us with warmer dialogue across the ensemble as well as fleshing out the music history timeline to span backwards from Shostakovich’s employment of the chamber strings in 1944.

The stillness and gentle lyricism across the carefully mixed and blended Schubert Notturno was a perfect prelude to greater drama in the Shostakovich which followed. These works’ deep moods were separated by the artist discussion which was satisfyingly longer than a live concert introduction.

Following the Shostakovich, a similar joy and enthusiasm of spoken description was offered by violist Stefanie Ferrands. Her introductory remarks were a breath of fresh air as they discussed Schumann the versatile composer in chamber music mode, the thrill of being central to the musical texture and versatile in role.

Schumann’s colourful work with great eloquence, independence of instruments and shifting narratives was also a strident statement and formidable work in fuller instrumentation with which to conclude this streamed event and Selby & Friends’ 2020 offerings.

Multiple options of access for full concert, discussion video, short films behind the scenes of the recording day, programme booklet and photo gallery exist through the Selby and Friends’ website to cater to home viewers needs.

The final offering from this arts group for 2020 champions the changed environment in a beautiful and substantial musical outpouring.

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