When is a trio not just a trio? When it is this one, comprising three stellar soloists. In their Southern Hemisphere debut, the matchless combined talents of violinist Nicola Benedetti, cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk will light up the Newcastle Conservatorium stage on 17 November during their national Musica Viva tour.
Each acclaimed as a leading soloist of their generation, they have been performing together as a trio since they met as young music students in London. While attending the Menuhin School, Benedetti and Elschenbroich played chamber music together and later met Alexei Grynyuk, who was studying at the Royal Academy of Music.
The trio’s recent highlights include performances at the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Royal Albert Hall London, Birmingham Symphony Hall, two tours of South America, and an extensive tour of Scotland. They’re also popular festival guests, appearing recently at the Ravinia, Gergiev, Istanbul, Cheltenham and Edinburgh International festivals.
Given who they are, this ensemble’s program is more than just trios. Instead, it offers a diversity of forms, and a chance to better appreciate each performer, in works for accompanied violin and cello by Richard Strauss. However, their joy in playing in threes shines through in the majestic second Piano Trio of Johannes Brahms and in Australian composer Gordon Kerry’s Im Winde.
Kerry writes: “Im Winde takes its title from a poem by the great German romantic, Friedrich Hölderlin. His short lyric Hälfte des Lebens (The Middle of Life) begins with images of ripeness – pear trees and roses, swans reflected in the calm surface of a lake – but the poem’s crux is what becomes of all of this when winter comes, when, as he puts it:
"Die Mauern stehn
Sprachlos und kalt, im Winde
Klirren die Fahnen"
(The walls stand,
speechless and cold, and in the wind
the weathervanes clatter).
Brahms was almost single-handedly flying the flag for traditional chamber music forms during the latter half of the nineteenth century, and the C major trio throws into relief so many of the things which make Brahms great: superb definition of form, well-crafted counterpoint, and a soaring, romantic melodicism at the heart of it all.
By contrast, when you think ‘Strauss’, you think big. He typically wrote for huge orchestras, offering the maximum palette of colours and textures. While the range and scope of his early chamber music is unquestionably looking forwards, it is fascinating to see his classical upbringing peeking through here and there in his sonatas.
Nicola Benedetti is one of the most sought-after violinists of her generation. Her ability to captivate audiences, coupled with her wide appeal as a high-profile advocate for classical music, has made her one of the most influential classical artists of today. She is also the first solo British violinist since the 1990s to enter the Top 20 of the Official U.K. Albums Chart.
The New York Times has described Leonard Elschenbroich as “a musician of great technical prowess, intellectual curiosity and expressive depth”. His many awards include the Leonard Bernstein Award, Förderpreis Deutschlandfunk, Eugene Istomin Prize, and Borletti Buitoni Trust Award.
Alexei Grynyuk is equally at home on the world’s great stages, performing in the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatoire, Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and many other prestigious festivals and venues.
This is chamber music made by an A-team of young guns; and played with love because they insist on making room for its presence in their busy solo schedules.
The Benedetti Elschenbroich Grynyuk Trio will perform at the Newcastle Conservatorium on Saturday 17 November at 7:30pm. For bookings and further details, please visit www.musicaviva.com.au