Nicolas Fleury (horn), Emily Sun (violin), Amir Farid (piano)
City Recital Hall
19 June, 2021
A serendipitous outcome of the pandemic and the absence of overseas touring artists has been the innovative combination of Australian based artists who have, notwithstanding snap border lockdowns, been able to tour and grace us with their music-making. Musica Viva’s presentation of an ensemble of three brilliant musicians – horn player Nicolas Fleury, violinist Emily Sun and pianist Amir Farid, playing music by Mozart, Brahms and a world premiere by Gordon Kerry – was one such auspicious confluence of talent.
The trio performed with exceptional flair in the two E-flat major horn trios by Mozart, K 407, adapted by Carl Ernst Naumann (1832 – 1910), from the Horn Quintet, K. 407 and Brahms’ demanding four-movement masterpiece opus 40. Virtuosi in their own right and unaccustomed as they must be to playing as an ensemble, with video rehearsals and concerts interrupted by lockdowns, the chemistry amongst the three musicians was evident and added a liberal dose of spritz to the performance.
Fleury trained in France and the UK and is presently based with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Playing a valved horn, he elicited an exciting range of tones – bright and brassy, deep and burnished; his breath control was exemplary, drawing beautifully even cantabile lines especially in the Adagio mesto of the Brahms trio which contrasted with the more nimble notes of the Rondo in Naumann’s adaptation of Mozart’s trio. Emily Sun, winner of the 2018 ABC Young Performer Award and on the faculty at London’s Royal College of Music, directed with aplomb from her 1760 Nicolo Gagliano violin with aplomb and US-born Iranian Australian Amir Farid, was an able and sympathetic pianist in the triarchy.
Interpolated between the two trios, the Sonata for violin and piano (2020) by Gordon Kerry (b 1961) received its world premiere. Kerry was present to introduce this piece which, he said, he moulded to the strengths of Sun and Farid. Kerry has certainly made excellent use of the violin – its range, colours and techniques. The single movement sonata opened high on the E string with a long-held harmonic growing into a meandering melody underpinned by shivering tremolos in the piano part. Emily Sun’s playing was masterful. Her violin buzzed, sobbed and sighed, showing off all its colours like a preening peacock, adding double stops, pizzicato and glissandi. Farid matched the violin with rippling interludes and bell-like tones. It is not a piece in traditional sonata form, where knowledge of structure helps the first-time, score-naive listener to understand the themes and the direction of the composition. Time will tell if the piece will enter the repertoire and whether it will be embraced by other soloists.
For now, I hope that Musica Viva will reconvene this opportune combination of musicians in the future, so they can once again thrill us with their skill and musicianship.
Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney©