Festivities opened with a program led by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Dale Barltrop. Barltrop and colleagues Isin Cakmakcioglu and Gabby Halloran shone in Dvorak’s Terzetto in C major for two violins and viola, Op. 74, giving an account that was both robust and refined. The admirably rich blend of the group’s tone revealed the composer’s grander, symphonic ambitions in this work, which was written as a piece of domestic chamber music.

After an introduction with neatly contrasted ideas came a nostalgic Larghetto whose long arc of melody was beautifully spun. A rustic scherzo, typical of Dvorak, was the perfect foil to the finale’s theme and variations in which Barltrop urged his friends on to an impassioned finish.

A brace of Bach’s two-part inventions played by Barltrop and MSO principal cello David Berlin, were well varied in mood and texture and displayed the players’ agile, keenly responsive ensemble skills.

Barltrop and Berlin were joined by MSO principal viola, Chris Moore for Beethoven’s String Trio in C minor, Op. 9, No. 3. The quicksilver energy that was evident from all three players at the beginning never flagged throughout the work, except in the Adagio where a beguiling beauty of tone prevailed.

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