Byline: Ed Ayres

Musica Viva’s next tour is a program built around Brahms’ masterpiece, his Horn Trio for Piano, Violin and Horn. Such a jewel requires three brilliant musicians, which Musica Viva more than delivers in the form of French horn player Nicolas Fleury, violinist Emily Sun, and pianist Amir Farid. Here are five reasons why you don’t want to miss this concert. 

1. See three internationally acclaimed Australian musicians come together for the first time.

If you’re always on the lookout for up-and-coming talent, you’ll know that this tour unites some of our best and brightest musicians for the very first time. Hornist Nicolas Fleury, violinist Emily Sun, and pianist Amir Farid have been making significant waves as soloists and orchestral musicians in recent years, so the opportunity to see them come together in an intimate chamber context for Musica Viva will be very special indeed.

For those not yet familiar with them, here’s a quick rundown: Fleury, currently Principal French Horn at Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, is a French native who began studying the notoriously difficult instrument at the age of eight. (For the uninitiated, the horn is difficult to keep in tune, with a very small difference in between notes at the top of the register.) Prior to his appointment with MSO, he held equivalent positions with the London-based Aurora Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed Professor of Horn at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2017, another plum appointment in a string of them for such a relatively young artist.

Sun’s dizzying international ascent began after she was named the ABC Young Performer of the Year in 2018, where her formidable talent and developed artistry were on full display. Since then, the awards have piled up, with wins at the Brahms International Violin Competition, Yampolsky International Violin Competition, Bromsgrove International Music Competition, and Lipizer International Violin Competition. Like Fleury, she’s appeared with orchestras and ensembles both international and Australian and currently teaches at the Royal College of Music.

One third of the Australian Benaud Trio, Farid is celebrated as a sensitive chamber musician whose career has been shaped by his love of collaboration. His versatility has seen him take up the role of repetiteur with the Mark Morris Dance Group, staff pianist at Juilliard, and rehearsal pianist with the New York Philharmonic, which he balances alongside a busy orchestral engagement load. He is particularly known to Melbourne audiences, and his albums have been nominated for Australian Independent Music Awards. Largely based in New York, this tour will be a chance for Australians to see him before he returns overseas, as well as a chance for audiences to see three musicians at the top of their game.

2. It’s a rare chance to hear the French horn in a solo context.

Usually heard as part of a full orchestra, this tour will allow audiences to experience the French horn in all its glory as it steps into the spotlight in a chamber music setting. Typically associated with notions of grandeur and nobility, as well as the hunt, the distinctive instrument inspired some of the best writing from the greats, including Mozart, Brahms, and Strauss. Happily, there have been phenomenal players of such virtuosic music, whose mastery of this challenging instrument remains awe inspiring – among these are Dennis Brain, the beloved late Australian Barry Tuckwell, and Hermann Baumann. Nicolas Fleury is sure to join their revered ranks in time, so what better way to experience his artistry than in an intimate format where the horn will be front and centre?''

3. It’s an opportunity to discover the unusual combination of the horn trio.

The combination of horn, violin and piano is so uncommon that it’s only Brahms’ Horn Trio (see next paragraph) that can truly be called a mainstay of the repertoire. Prior to the piece’s emergence and subsequent opening up of possibilities, many believed that such a combination was completely unwieldy, with a less than brilliant horn player in constant danger of overwhelming the finer textures of the violin and piano. But when pulled off, the golden voice of the horn is an ideal playmate, helping to create a warmth and tenderness that can’t be replicated.

4. Experience the majesty of the Brahms Horn Trio.

As explored in our Mother’s Day blog post, the Brahms Horn Trio is an undeniable masterwork. Composed in 1865, it is widely acknowledged as inventing the horn trio itself and is the ideal showcase for the titular instrument: it helps illustrate a mysterious Romantic forest, conjures up a boisterous rustic scene, and anchors a slow movement of surpassing beauty. Inspired by the passing of the composer’s mother, Christiane, it’s a work that encompasses both deep sorrow and joy and must be heard at least once in your life.

5. Take part in the premiere of Gordon Kerry’s Violin Sonata.

Commissioned by Julian Burnside to celebrate the Australian composer Gordon Kerry’s 60th birthday, Kerry’s Violin Sonata will receive its anticipated debut on this tour. A one-movement work that comes in at just 10 minutes (a very difficult thing to achieve), the Sonata explores the ripe dramatic possibilities of bringing together two virtuoso musicians. Kerry has had a long and celebrated association with Musica Viva and is widely regarded for his highly inventive output which displays a keen sense of the capabilities of the instruments for which he’s writing.

Nicolas Fleury, Emily Sun and Amir Farid tour nationally for Musica Viva from 9 June to 26 June.