Concert Review

Gryphon Trio
Chamber Music Kelowna
Feb. 2,  2018

 Celebrating 25 years as on of the worlds preeminent chamber ensembles, Canada’s Gryphon Trio paid a much-anticipated visit to Kelowna on Friday night, hosted by Chamber Music Kelowna. Still comprised of its three original members; violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon, cellist Roman Borys, and pianist Jamie Parker the Gryphon Trio treated their sold-out Kelowna audience to a varied program that skillfully married the old with the new and demonstrated why this ensemble has remained relevant for so long and continues to be a pioneer in the classical music world today.

The program opened with Joseph Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 45 in E-flat Major, Hob. XV:29. Composed late in Haydn’s life, and one of the last string trios he ever wrote, this work showcases Haydn’s substantial contributions to the genre. Full of melodious themes contrasted with rollicking dance idioms the Gryphons showcased their outstanding command of the challenging nuances of this repertoire and gave the work a consistently clean and tasteful reading.

The highlight of the program was the 2013 work Love Triangle by Halifax composer Dinuk Wijeratne. Fusing his Sri-Lankan roots with his middle eastern upbringing, Wijeratne’s writing masterfully blends tradition with a new and fresh intercultural voice that is much needed in the world of classical music today. Starting off with an ostinato groove in the piano that would continually resurface hypnotically throughout the piece, the strings morphed from what sounded like the tuning of their instruments to engaging in an almost improvisatory dialogue with each-other. Drawing on many middle eastern musical influences such as pitch bending and non-western tonalities, this piece transported the audience away from a cold Canadian winter and into the hot desert sun.

The program concluded with, as pianist Jamie Parker noted in his onstage remarks, one of the “blockbusters” of the string trio repertoire, the Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op.8 by Johannes Brahms. From the heart wrenching opening melody in the cello, the lighthearted ping-pong match of the Scherzo, the choral-like third movement, and the epic b minor finale the Gryphons had the audience riveted for the duration of this extensive work.

After a standing ovation and multiple curtain calls the trio concluded the evening with Astor Piazzolla’s iconic tango Muerte del Angel.

Sandra Wilmot is a Kelowna-based freelance musician, composer, educator, and violin instructor. She plays professionally with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and is on faculty at the Kelowna Community Music School.