Above : Violinist Nicola Benedetti played Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No 2 in D major Op 94. Photo credit : Simon Fowler.  Featured image :  trio members Nicola Benedetti (violin), Alexei Grynyuk (piano) and Leonard Elschenbroich (cello). Photo credit: Vancouver Recital Society.

A huge thanks must go to Musica Viva and Artistic Director Carl Vine for rounding off the 2018 International Concert Season by bringing this exciting piano trio to our shoresfor the first time. The solid global solo reputations of Nicola Benedetti, Leonard Elschenbroich and Alexei Grynyuk precede them. The virtuosic calibre of their solo lines when combined in balanced and vivid chamber music works made a memorable debut for the second Sydney concert.

The rewarding programme also began with works for two of the trio members at a time to completed the concert’s first half. In this way virtuosic communication by cellist Elsenbroich and violinist Benedetti as well as the consummate skill of accompanist Grynyuck were showcased in no less than two challenging sonatas by Prokofiev.

Leonard Elschenbroich dug deep into  Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata in C major Op 119 to offer us beautifully delicate moments of refined tone and challemged us with prolonged focussed sections of loaded stillness. Moments of string effects such as pizzicato and multiple stop strumming brought us a fascinating array of colour. Prokofiev’s inventiveness on the cello was ably supported at all times by the piano.

Fireworks followed with Benedetti’s rendering of Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No 2 in D major Op 94. Continuing the all-Prokofiev  first half with sonatas from the 1940’s, This violinist introduced herself to Sydney audiences in stunning style. The unique narrative thread of this work, with Prokofiev’s concise gesturing and angular twists, was in good hands here. This violinist’s signature precision and widely varied emotional colouring was impressive.

At times in this work even a single note or small phrase fragment delivered by Benedetti spoke volumes. The support from Grynyuk’s accompaniment was once again suitably pointed and exciting. A refined and eloquent balance was heard across the shifting textures.

The concert’s highlight came with the fine soloists collaborating as a trio after interval. Very satisfying in the trio format was their choice of Gordon Kerry’s Im Winde (Piano Trio No 2) from 2002. This work filled the Musica Viva concert criteria of visiting artists playing new or recent Australian

This trio displayed a keen aptitude for new music in a beautiful interpretation of the fragments of atmosphere which make up Kerry’s work that explores seasonal contrasts in nature. This was a seamless reading of the score by the ‘BEG’ Trio, continuing the ensemble balance displayed previously during the instrumental sonatas with piano.

The flautato string effects were particulary beautifully here. They were reflected in the piano with carefully chosen degrees of nuance from the softer dynamic spectrum.

Closely nterlocking intimacy and elegance continued in the performance of Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor. Although the earliest work in the programme by decades, Ravel’s meticulous craftmanship made it a perfect match to join the other works this concert programme.

With this trio performing, this  work came alive with a spontaneity and respect for the architecture. The arsenal of virtuosic resources at this ensemble’s disposal presented reiterations of motives such as the first movement theme with a gorgeous subtlety and persistently clever variation.  This made Ravel’s work a fresh and thoroughly engaging conclusion to this concert of ensemble gems various.

Our appetite for this trio’s special brand of solo and ensemble wonderful was truly piqued as Musica Viva brought this group to our attention and also brought their International Concert Season  for 2018 to a stunning close.