Ensemble Liaison Dream Away at AFCM Festival Prelude
As the Westerly winds howled on Saturday night, I curled up on the couch with a handful of hot chips and waited for the AFCM livestream to begin.
Presented through Melbourne Digital Concert Hall, the Australian Festival of Chamber Music’s Festival Prelude featured livestream concerts and digital content from Friday to Sunday.
Melbourne-based trio Ensemble Liaison thrilled online audiences with their first concert of the year and an unusual, engaging program. Ensemble Liaison are Timothy Young on piano, Svetlana Bogosavljevic on cello, and David Griffiths on clarinet.
Saturday’s concert, Dream a little Dream, was streamed from the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne. The concert opened with a debut performance of Timothy Young’s composition, Fantasy Trio ‘Für Elise’. Beethoven’s well-known theme wove in and out, floating between the various instruments.
Next, was Brahms’ Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano in A Minor, Op 114, a staple of chamber music. The ensemble breathed together, gliding between the four movements and their varying moods and tempos with ease.
Then there was an interval, with an insightful meet-the-artists Q&A, led by MDCH Director Chris Howlett. Chris chatted to David and Timothy, with appropriate social distancing in the empty concert hall, on all things performing, teaching, composing and even wine.
The artists returned to stage, and then Timothy performed a solo of Earl Wilde’s Concert Etude no.3, ‘The Man I Love’. Based on Gershwin’s piece of the same title, this work has a rippling, lulling piano melody, letting the listener drift away.
To close, the ensemble performed Igor Frolov’s Concert Fantasy on themes from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. From a dramatic piano opening, to fluttering, jazzy clarinet, to soulful cello, this operatic fantasy gave the ensemble a chance to display mastery and virtuosity. David, Svetlana and Timothy shifted between the many moods and textures with sensitivity.
Ensemble Liaison then presented the encore, a tango by Piazzolla and more. The tango was gentle and moving, and then they broke off into a jazzy and upbeat feel. Timothy, David and Svetlana certainly seemed to enjoy the encore, so it was the perfect way to end.
In all, Dream a little Dream was a thoroughly enjoyable concert, showcasing sublime chamber music by a strong, resilient ensemble. Ensemble Liaison, together with AFCM and MDCH have proved that even in the face of lockdown, music plays on.
Can’t wait to see Ensemble Liaison live at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville in 2021!