REVIEW: Sitkovsky Trio by Neville Cohn

Piano shines in Sitkovetsky Trio

Reviewed by Neville Cohn
on the 9th April 2014
for the West Australian
4 stars
Review of the Sitkovetsky Trio
Perth Concert Hall

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio is one of the lengthiest works in the chamber music canon. And when it is given a less-than-convincing reading, it can sound endless. Not so on Tuesday when, in the hands of the Sitkovetsky Trio, time flew.

The ensemble’s ability to pierce to the heart of whatever it essays was gratifyingly in evidence here. Each of the three musicians is clearly a virtuoso in the sense of being able to come confidently to grips with even the most demanding of music scores with seemingly effortless ability. But this in itself is only part of the story.

Crucially, the players have the ability to set aside their individuality in favour of a corporate musical entity – and in this sense, I cannot recall any other similarly constituted ensemble now before the public that can equal it in this sense.

In so finely judged a reading, it is perhaps invidious to single out individuals but it would be ungracious not to particularly praise the dramatic virtuosity and gratifying interpretative insights of pianist Wu Qian.

There was a near-perfect assessment of the notes in the brief, hushed funeral march that brings the work to a close.

A program well off the beaten track included Carl Vine’s Trio The Village. It abounds in aural delights, the sound equivalent of looking into a slowly revolving kaleidoscope. Abounding in fascinating, constantly changing detail, it’s a work without a dull moment – and the trio presented it with immense flair and technical finesse. I’d like to listen to it again.

In Smetana’s Piano Trio in G minor, the composer sublimates both grief at the loss of a young daughter and anguish concerning his failing hearing. I was deeply moved by the sincerity that informed every moment of the performance; it was a reading that radiated the despair that lies at its heart. Certainly, the work’s innate quality of sorrow was fully established, the players expounding the work’s intricate emotional argument in a way that was beyond criticism.