Review by Nela Trifkovic
Ian Grandage, the violoncellist of the trio “Triage” opens the concert with an explanation: “All the works are from the 20th century, except for Jessica’s and my own, both written in 21st century.” “Triage” gave their first concert in “Hudson Gallery” a loveable urban hybrid between an art gallery and a bar.
The trio members are Jessica Ipkendanz (violin), Nikola Babic (viola) and Ian Grandage (violoncello).
The programme itself was a colourful combination of trio, duo and solo pieces.
Flamboyant players Ipkendanz and Grandage are highly reliant on the theatricality of their gesticulations, making it as if not even more important that their musical interpretation. The viola player Babic on the other hand is of completely different nature. Focused and humble, Babic opens the second section of Dohnanyi’s “Romanze” with warm and attractive tone and clear intonation in the arpeggio passages and provides purring, alluring passages of thirds that slide seductively around the violoncello motives, evocative of traditional Hungarian music.
Ipkendanz and Babic are engaged in a subtle and even somewhat gloomy dialogue in their interpretation of Martinu’s “Madrigal for Violin and Viola”.
Ipkendanz makes dramatic choices of interpretation, using long lines of continuously increasing sound intensity and theatrical phrase ends.
Babic joins the discussion firstly from the distance, his musical argument and narrative skills increasing progressively and intelligently throughout the entire work. I am listening to a mature and focused musician with deep understanding about the proportions and dramatic development in programmatic music.
The pinnacle was definitely the trio arrangement of Shostakovich’s “String Quartet no.8” which gave the members countless opportunities to engage in the deep symbolism and the emotional impact of this writing. Babic is at his most extroverted in this piece. He transforms the viola sound into a bitter cry of a Russian contra-alto, or contrary to that, into a suspicious tenor hovering on his toe-tips afraid of his own shadow.
The concert was ended with a sensual arrangement of Piazzolla’s “Spring” form his “Four Seasons”, a piece which gave gentle and comfortable social ambience to this exciting and revealing night at the “Hudson Gallery”