Seraphim Trio and Martin Alexander

Seraphim Trio and Martin Alexander
ANAM Artists. Independent Theatre North Sydney. 24th November, 2019

If seraphim are ‘six winged angels’ with “a fiery passion for doing God's good work” (Isiah, Chapter 6), then this trio plus one is aptly named. Anna Goldsworthy (piano), Helen Ayres (violin) and Timothy Nankervis (cello) and Martin Alexander (viola) – are certainly ‘musical angels’ with a fiery passion for what they do! And their work? Taking beautiful music around the country as representatives of the Australian National Academy of Music Artists (ANAM).

ANAM is dedicated to “the artistic and professional development of the most exceptional young musicians from Australia and New Zealand”. The ANAM Artists program showcases some of their alumni in series of recitals. Last Sunday’s recital saw Seraphim return to Sydney after an exhaustive inter- and intra- state tour. Despite their wide travels, they were brightly fresh and brilliantly entertaining.

Martin Alexander introduced Mozart’s Piano Concerto in G Minor as written in the “key of Fate” because G Minor is regarded as a “painful, sorrowful key”. Seraphim’s program notes expand on this by explaining that the G minor “gravitas” of the first movement is “dispelled in the second movement, followed by the third movement in the key of G major which unfolds as a visitation of joy”. And so it did! It was a joy to see and hear four talented musicians working together so harmoniously to show how Mozart balanced the interplay between piano and strings in this exceptional work that cleverly blends the instruments to accentuate and intensify every change in tone and emotion.

Timothy Nankervis introduced the second part of the program, Dvořák’s Piano Quartet in E flat major Op. 87, in a little double divertissement about Dvořák – namely that he started his career as a violist and how his love of the instrument shines in this piece, and that he also loved trains, often spending hours ‘trainspotting’. He went on to explain the intricacies of the piece including its wonderful melodies, the lovely cello solo and “the joy, excitement and mercurial, bohemian quality” of the themes.

This was all certainly evident in the quartet’s rendering of the piece. Gentle beginnings allowed the voices of the instruments to blend yet remain delicately distinguishable, before rising to more compelling emotional shifts of mood. The mellow voice of the cello underlined the lyrical moments of the piece and the viola shone at others. Motifs referencing gypsy themes are reflective and melancholy. In the 4th and final movement themes are brought together in an intense harmony that thrills and leaves one wanting more.

This was certainly a program that exemplified ANAM’s ongoing contribution to the Australia’s musical talent and its commitment to taking music to far and diverse audiences. The Seraphim Trio and Martin Alexander are great ambassadors of the aim of the ANAM Artists program. Their love of music, their carefully honed talent and their enthusiasm are constantly evident – and their knowledge about the composers and their lives brings humanity and humour to their performances.

Carol Wimmer

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