Last night saw the latest in a series of excellent ongoing chamber music programs featuring the finest of local musicians, replacing advertised recitals that could not go ahead as scheduled because of the unavailability of some artists due to ongoing interstate lockdowns. For this concert, the fine first desk Adelaide Symphony Orchestra cellist Simon Cobcroft replaced the Seraphim Trio’s usual cellist, Tim Nankervis. So effective  and sympathetic a chamber musician was he that he dovetailed effortlessly with the always dependable pianist Anna Goldsworthy and top-flight violinist Helen Ayres.

Seraphim Trio

Anna Goldsworthy, Helen Ayres and Simon Cobcroft. Photos supplied

Here was a a trio which seemingly breathed as one, so in tune with each other were its members, again proving just what fine local musicians we have access to. In a program consisting of Haydn’s late C major Piano Trio and perhaps Beethoven’s finest work in the genre, the formidable large scaled ‘Archduke’. Here was a recital which was eloquent, passionate and big boned yet marked by empathy and balance, played without intermission.

These works proved an ideal coupling with Haydn’s late Trio in C major, H.27 and Ludwig van’s broad structured almost symphonic four movements from 1811 – a work whose central third movement presages the autumnal qualities of Robert Schumann’s undervalued Piano Quartet, Op. 44. Haydn’s three movement work is sonata-like in form – more like a piano sonata with string accompaniment. In fact this is how the composer himself had subtitled this work, his forty third in the genre. Often the cello in particular, is merely left to underline or echo the piano’s left hand, something which Cobcroft did with a great sense of economy and glowing passion. Here was a performance which was joyous, fleet of foot and seamless. It was amazing just how well this trio of musicians gelled, seemingly breathing as one in a masterly and organic way. Cobcroft must be praised for the effortless and empathetic way in which he fell in to place; one would have presumed that he was a longstanding member of this great trio.

Beethoven’s ‘Archduke’ was the true highlight of this recital. Here was a performance rightly imbued with balance and authority. Goldsworthy proved, as always, to be a chamber musician of great power, intuition and passion and both Helen Ayers and Cobcroft were equally fine. The trio delighted in their traversal of this long work’s wide ranging terrain. The contrapuntal work was exemplary delivered with strong emotional understanding, dealing effortlessly with its ebbs and flows in mood and intent – the cello lines delivered with wide vibrato appropriately passionate, Romantic intent and the balance maintained between Ayres and Cobcroft were truly a wonder throughout this long work, creating a performance which was almost symphonic in approach. Everyone played with a wide variety of tonal colours, keeping in with the many demands made by the composer in this revolutionary work. The third movement of variations was played with much detail and variety before segueing into the playfully final movement. It was rhythmically exciting and unabashedly melodic – playful, almost kittenishly in the rustic folkdances. The race to the end featured very fine runs of well balanced trills from Goldsworthy before all three musicians ran incisively to the exciting conclusion of the work.

So enthusiastically was this recital received that we were treated to an charged performance of the finale to Haydn’s ‘Gypsy’ trio. Bravo to all involved!

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