Bohemian Rhapsody

Benaud Trio
Classical, New Music
Melba Recordings MR301142
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Benaud Trio brothers Ewen (violin) and Lachlan (cello) Bramble plus pianist Amir Farid are outstandingly well balanced. Winner of their section in the Australian Chamber Muisc Competition in 2005, they have built a significant reputation for thorough preparation and finely detailed performances.

Farid has the true chambers pianist’s approach, the Benauds both stalwarts of the Adelaide Symphony orchestra, equally savvy in ensemble and solo roles.

Their Bohemian Rhapsody disc is handsomely produced by Maria van Damme with copious and informative program notes in English, German and French by Duncan Druce. All parties are acknowledged, including the piano tuner.

Included are observations from 1772 by Charles Burney on his travels through Bohemia, where he notes that ‘in all villages where there is a reading and writing school children of both sexes are taught music’. Imagine! Both sexes!

The sound is clear and true, often quite engagingly intimate, especially from the piano, a Steinway Model D. All credit to Peter Taplin, Alex Stinson and Phil Rowlands, respectively Producer, Engineer and Editor. So successful are their efforts, I had only to shut my eyes to be transported to the South Melbourne Town Hall hearing it all live.

The same detail noted above characterises the playing.

Smetana’s Piano Trio on G minor gathers pace as it proceeds through the three movements, wrapping up the themes with welcome reminders of the earlier sentiments and scenes in the Finale: Presto.

Even more frequent and more dramatic are the switches between dark and light, contemplative and impulsive, of the Dvorak Piano Trio in E minor ‘Dumky’ Op 09 B 166. The piano is often given the job of stitching the patches together, and Farid’s timing is impeccable, giving our ears just enough space to accommodate the Andante-Vivace non troppo-Andante-Allegretto progress of the third movement while maintaining its inner logic.

My acquaintance with Freddie Mercury and Queen has been slight. Benuad’s inclusion of their Bohemian Rhapsody, arranged by Nicholas Buc, on this disc does nothing to persuade me to pursue it further.

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