16 May 2012


It was an amusing string of rescheduled meetings that makes me miss some concerts and get to at least one other. What I did attend was a rehearsal with Ella Luhtasaari, David Pereira and Barbara Jane Gilby. It was a star cast, in daily work routine, rehearsing a Mozart Trio (K-whatever) and Brahms’ E-minor sonata. In fact, even this was in place of a concert I had expected to attend but which had been rescheduled. So I was playing it by ear.

I was playing by ear as I listened, too. The Mozart was delightful, lively, jovial, but also changeable with shards of passion that appeared amongst the merrymaking. It was interrupted for discussion to compare ideas on bar nn (“85’s a good bar”) or to talk interpretation. The audience was unexpected but welcomed. The players were comfortable enough – they were perfectly professional and at ease – but I felt at one stage we were forcing them to perform, rather than rehearse. So be it. The music was a delight. Barbara departed after the Mozart, and the David and Ella rehearsed the Brahms E-minor sonata. This was more profound, more complex, less playful, and this is where I noticed the musicians performing. Most of the audience had left by then, so it was just a few stayers. After the first movement, there were discussions on the balance of cello and piano. They raised the lid of the Steinway and it was suddenly much more clear, sharp, loud. David’s voluminous and toneful cello had overwhelmed the piano with the lid slightly opened, but the unlidded Steinway took on power and clarity that easily bettered the cello. I wondered which was the better option, but the performance was not to be in this room and that was also a factor. As a string payer, I luxuriated in David’s cello. Cello has a larger range than bass – it’s tuned in fifths, not fourths. It reaches to relatively high notes and down somewhere amongst bass notes. And it’s flexible and malleable and toneful. David’s a renowned master and his ease with bowing and the fingerboard was a delight. The same message went easily for Ella and Barbara. I enjoyed the ease of reading and the search for interpretation from all the players. Also Ella’s skills and increasing abandon on a few passages in the Brahms. And, of course, the powerful but precise sound of the Steinway unleashed.

To be included in the life of the ANU School of Music can be even better than a concert. What must it be like to live this life every day. Thanks from CJ. Ella Luhtasaari (piano), David Pereira (cello) and Barbara Jane Gilby (violin) rehearsed a Mozart Trio and Brahms’ E-minor sonata.

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