It’s like a new marriage, but with three partners. Australia’s newest string trio Swan Virtuosi got to know each other a little better on the weekend. It was their second concert and Margaret Blades, Sally Boud and Louise McKay had the help of chamber music experts Mozart, Schubert and Kodaly.
Schubert’s unfinished Trio D471 was a poised concert opener. Blades is normally heard fronting the WA Symphony Orchestra but here the crystalline lyricism and dark glow of her 1710 Cappa violin could be heard to full advantage. Boud’s empathic viola playing, familiar from her previous role in the Australian String Quartet, took on a more conversational role while the muscular, plaintive cello of McKay formed the foundation of the trio. Schubert’s ménage of elegant melodies revealed the lyrical potential of the group, although phrasing was not always uniform.
Kodaly’s Duo for violin and cello Op 7 had more coherence, with Blades and McKay passing musical ideas back and forth and exploring the whispers and sobbing of Kodaly’s rhapsodic folk tunes. The intimacy of just two instruments meant the players’ carefully crafted nuances could be appreciated.
The virtuosic writing in Mozart’s Divertimento for String Trio exposed each instrument in turn. The trio had the extroversion and empathy required with exciting passagework in the Allegro movements (although the first movement was a little unsettled) and blended warmth in the Adagio. This was Mozart where cleanness was substituted for freedom and vehemence. The musical boldness, combined with beauty of sound, are traits that promise much for Swan Virtuosi’s future life together.