12 November 2013
Three paces in history
The order was skew-whiff but the development was pretty obvious. Estelita Rae, Kimberley Steele and Jock Hobbs played Schubert, Brahms and Mendelssohn in the foyer of the National Library for another C100 concert. I’d heard all these players before although not in this format. I spoke to Jack after the gig about the development of this music. They played the Brahms first, although he’s the latest of the three. I heard this as solid, rich in interplay and more turgid. It was the first movement of his B major Piano trio. I checked the key – yes, B major, about the worst key for any jazz player despite its appearance in Giant steps. The Schubert followed. This is actually the earliest of the three (1828).
Jack called it the “most classical” and it was lighter, fresher, more immediately attractive, with more straightforward instrumental roles and less interplay and development. More chamber- and song-like than the symphonic styles of Brahms and Mendelssohn. This was Schubert’s Eb Piano trio op.100 second movement. Apparently said of it “see the sun setting”. That fits. Then the major work of the night, all four movements of Mendelssohn’s first Piano trio in D minor. This is the intermediate work between the other two. The movements vary, of course, with the piano evidently presenting a larger conception. The first movement was Russian passionate, with sequences, echoing lines and interplay, wide dynamics and emotional richness. Then a slower, questing second movement and a bouncy third in 3/4 time. Then a final smoother movement where I was taken by some massive ascending and descending passages on piano that were mirrored by violin and cello. I felt the Trio played the best here. Jack told me the Brahms had its first outing and was not so settled. The Schubert was lovely but the Mendelssohn made demands. Certainly by the Mendelssohn they were playing with attachment and gusto. The piano could have done with a tuner’s visit and the noisy sliding foyer doors were an interruption, but the live acoustic and the small audience was a pleasure. This was a lovely visit to some significant names but also an opportunity to view changes in styles over the time. Nice.
Estelita Rae (violin), Kimberley Steele (piano) and Jack Hobbs (cello) performed in the foyer of the National Library of Australia for the first Three’s a crowd concert in the C100 series.