Freshwater Trio
Two members of Borealis String Quartet


Freshwater Trio - MusicFest Vancouver: Photo Credit: Jelena SabovaDvorak, Ravel and Chatman: Freshwater Trio with Tyler Duncan
Wednesday, 11 August 2010 at 8:00pm • Christ Church Cathedral

Performers Zoe Black, Violin; Josephine Vains, Cello; Eidit Golder, Piano; Tyler Duncan, Baritone

Reviewer Stephanie Dodd


Freshwater Trio joins us from Australia to participate in this year's MusicFest at Georgia Street's gorgeous Christ Church Cathedral, and Vancouver is fortunate to have them as guests.The trio consists of Zoe Black on violin, Josephine Vains on cello, and Eidit Golder on piano. While it would be lovely to comment on them as individual musicians, their collaboration as an ensemble at Wednesday's performance was so perfectly coordinated as to make discussing them as anything other than the tight unit they are seem absurd. The program of the show was eclectic, keeping the audience entertained and guessing, while highlighting the trio's impressive talent.

The performance started off on an excellent note with Maurice Ravel's Deux melodies hebraiques. The first song, Kaddisch, opens with a simple, lullabye-like piano melody that builds in complexity and emotion as the strings layer themselves in. The song felt familiar, although I couldn't place it, which makes me think it may have appeared in a movie soundtrack or two over the years, hopefully one that involved stormy days on the moors, as that was the image that it strongly evoked for me. This was truly a gorgeous piece performed with tasteful understatement. The end result of this effort is clear, gimmick-free drama, and I think this song was the highlight of the show.

The second song, L'Enigme eternelle, provided a startling but exciting contrast, played at break-neck speed and evidencing strong technical skills on the parts of all three players. There were heads bobbing and toes tapping throughout the audience, and had we been in a less formal venue and had the piece gone on a little longer, I'm sure dancing would have ensued.

The next piece wasn't my favourite, to be honest. It wasn't formally announced, but my leaflet said it was Kinderszenen, by Robert Schumann. I think variety was a key goal in the evening's program, and this piece was successful in providing that. These ladies are not one-trick ponies. Skillful though they may have been, however, I did not find the frequent dischords, the improvised percussion, or the simulated whale noises featured in this more modern-sounding piece to be particularly pleasing to the ear.

For the final piece before intermission, the trio was joined by baritone Tyler Duncan -- a locally bred and very talented singer who is apparently a long-time veteran of MusicFest Vancouver -- to perform a MusicFest-commissioned original set of eight songs about love, composed by Stephen Chatman. Again, from a stylistic point of view, this arrangement was really not to my taste. The lyrics, however, written by poet Tara Wohlberg, were witty, fun, and slightly bawdy (it's not often that you get to hear such lines as "Would you like to tickle my pickle?" at a classical concert), causing amused titters to float through the audience. With his rich voice and stage-presence, Duncan pulled them off with panache. The trio provided perfect accompaniment, as well as a surprise or two: I had not realized that a cello could be picked up and played guitar-style.

After the intermission, the trio ended strongly with Antonin Dvorak's Trio in E minor (Dumsky). From start to finish, this piece was elegant and moving in all the right ways. It was filled with time and mood changes, and the trio transitioned flawlessly between them all. The adagio section in particular was just beautiful. Congratulations to all the performers involved for putting on such an engaging show.

© 2010 Stephanie Dodd