Reviewer rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

STORY AND ALLEGORY
By Trio Anima Mundi

MIDWINTER DREAM
By Seraphim Trio

Melbourne Recital Centre, June 16

CHAMBER music lovers were well catered for on Saturday when two upper-level ensembles performed in both of the Melbourne Recital Centre's rooms. Beginning their three-part series, the Trio Anima Mundi presented an orthodox program in the afternoon, comprising Haydn's Gypsy Piano Trio in G and that hardy perennial, the Shostakovich Op. 67, with a rare outing for Martinu's five-part Bergerettes occupying the central position.

Well seasoned after the customary out-of-town recitals in Geelong and Bacchus Marsh, the Anima Mundi players gave a firm account of the Haydn score, the focus on Kenji Fujimura's expert piano part, especially in the Rondo finale, violinist Rochelle Ughetti enjoying plenty of exposure in the central slow movement.

All the attention centres on the cello at the start of the Russian masterpiece and Miranda Brockman made a good fist of the eerie harmonics that set a high emotional bar for the work's harrowing journey. Highly competent in the biting scherzo and the energetic pages that form the last movement's climax, the players made their points with determination, but the trio's core, its slow lamenting Andante cantabile, moved past too rapidly, the composer's pain abridged rather than laid out at length.

Martinu's bagatelles illustrated the Bohemian composer's melodic idiosyncrasy, folk-like but with a slightly sophisticated veneer. This collection brought out fine qualities: the rhythmic dependability of Fujimura, a steely sweetness from Ughetti's upper range and a clear-speaking firmness when Brockman has the floor.

The group performed to a well-packed Salon.

With their menu of Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Sydney composer Alan Holley, the Seraphim Trio played in the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall to a small audience. While the progress of Beethoven's Ghost Trio in D was enjoyable enough, the evening's other major offering proved a disappointment.

Mendelssohn's C minor Trio holds some splendid pages, including the odd but compelling chorale Vor deinen Thron that colours the finale, but the Seraphim reading worked positively only in the middle movements, best in a spacious account of the slow movement.

In the work's more active pages, Anna Goldsworthy's piano proved too powerful, putting Helen Ayres' violin and cellist Tim Nankervis into the shade. The composition favours the keyboard but, with so much resonance thanks to under-population, the results veered between the slightly bright and the muddy.