Phoenix Story

Phil Vendy
2MBS FM Fine Music (Australia)
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Coming late in Chopin’s short life, his opus 65 already had all the mood and drama of a mid-romantic sonata, with rich tonalities from the cello pairing bound closely right from the start with a solidly confident, expressive piano part. And how quickly it seems to come to an end! Which it does more light-spiritedly than the main body might suggest, Chopin perhaps deciding that its troubled note had already run its course.

Rachmaninov puts more separation between his string players, with them fairly stampeding off in the opening salvos to stake out all the territory they can. The pianist works decisively to keep them reined in, foiling their attempt to pizzicato their way to freedom, and by the third movement the trio are of one accord: next stop, a full-blown cello concerto all their own. This is a mightier work than Chopin’s, from a relatively earlier point in Rachmaninov’s career, when he was at the height of his creative powers. Such confidence in that surprise finish! Two very substantial works.

‘Oh! Me! Me!’ cries Kats-Chernin. ‘Whose title is it?’ All right, then. She rewards the pianist with retrenchment, and hands over to the string-playing upstarts a very lyrical, almost soulful fifteen-minute work-out in two parts, which unexpectedly perhaps makes a foil perfect for what precedes it. Those of us counting on experience rather than youth being our key competitive advantage can only mutter darkly when such young performers turn in these solid, intense performances.


Fine work, on every count.