Meet Selby and Friends

Our third concert for 2013 on Friday, 14 June 2013 at 8.00pm in the Gillian Moore Centre for Performing Arts, Pymble Ladies College,  will feature the Selby and Friends trio.   We (SMS) spoke to the performers - pianist Kathryn Selby, violinist Natsuko Yoshimoto and cellist Timo-Viekko Valve.  They had some interesting things to say.

Interview with Kathryn Selby  (KS)

SMS  How did your piano career evolve?

KS  I started learning at age seven.  I would have been 11 or 12 when I started at the Conservatorium high school which I remember as one of the best times of my life. I began taking piano lessons at seven and was pretty passionate about playing the piano. I had asked my parents for a piano and must have really wanted it because I have never stopped practicing since!  However, I was also passionate about my pets, school , chocolate and swimming in the pool so perhaps my childhood was a reflection of a happy and well-rounded home life. By the time I was about 9 or 10 the ABC was involved with me. I was recording for them and studying with Nancy Salas. A visiting ABC artist, Bela Siki, heard me on the radio and asked to see and hear me. He then offered to teach me and from the ages of 12 through to 14 I went with one of my parents every six months to Seattle for a month for intensive study with Bela. He was the one who suggested I audition for the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and that is where I went to study just before I turned 15. However many others were involved with my early education, from encouraging and supporting me to giving me lessons.

SMS Do you still have to practise?

KS I certainly do.  When I had children I found it much harder to get the six to seven hours a day I needed.

SMS Do you still get nervous before taking part in a big performance?

KS  Yes, indeed, big and small

SMS  What was it like performing for the General Assembly of the United Nations?

KS  What I really remember is almost falling flat on my face when I tried walking to the stage for the first time in high heels.

SMS  How do you keep classical music fresh?

KS  Each time I sit down at the piano, whether to work or perform, what comes out is always different, always fresh, and, depending on circumstances, always inspired by interaction with the audience

SMS  Who are the pianists you most admire?

KS  Growing up I admired the pianists Solomon, Serkin, Cherkassky, Arrau, Perahia, Richter and Uchida but there are many more. I am not sure one can say ‘world’s best’ as the world turns on the fact that everyone’s taste is different and therefore what appeals to me may not appeal to others. However, a beautiful warm sound, quicksilver fingers and a big heart have always appealed to me in a pianist. I really enjoy Denis Matsuev of the younger lions of the keyboard.

SMS  Which composers inspire you the most?

KS  I think the answer to this question has probably changed over the years but I can honestly say that I have never strayed from Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Bach, Dvorak and I could go on and on. There is something in each of them, but I probably find Beethoven the most complete in every way.

Natsuko Yoshimoto (NY)

SMS  What are your feelings about the Mozart K378 Violin Sonata that you will be playing?

NY  It's a glorious work in B flat major full of happiness and beautiful melodies. The whole piece radiates positivity and warmth. The last movement has a wonderful cheeky triplet section which to me sounds like laughing before the sonata comes to an end. It's a fabulous work which Kathy and I have enjoyed performing many times!

Timo-Viekko Valve (Tipi)

SMS  Tipi, with Kathryn you will be playing the Beethoven Cello Sonata Op 5 no 2 for us.   How does this fit in with the evolution of the cello sonata genre?

Tipi:   The five ´indisputably authentic´ sonatas we have from Beethoven (together with the Horn Sonata op. 17 and an arrangement of the String Trio in E flat op. 3 bringing the grand total to seven!) give us an amazingly complete view of the development of a genius and of the form. One can easily say that Beethoven paved the way for the romantic cello sonata tradition, creating works where both instrumentalists (cello and piano) are equal in terms of technical demand and compositional role.

The sonata I performed at the Sydney Mozart Society's concert last year is the turning point (op. 69 A Major). The sonatas before that (op. 5 no. 1 and 2) are still closer to the traditions developed by Mozart or Haydn. We cellists have basically nothing written for us by Mozart and not a huge deal from Mr. Haydn either.

I find these two sonatas my favourites!  It tickles the imagination of what would a Mozart sonata for cello and fortepiano sound like.