There could hardly be a better way to begin the musical year than with the Benaud Trio and with the contrasting blockbusters they chose for this concert. Music-lovers apparently shared this view, as the Trio had to hold a second sitting to accommodate everyone admittedly, in the smaller Salon at the MRC. This was a notable vote of confidence in the Benaud Trio on a weekend when a larger, more famous chamber orchestra was offering a program of well-loved composers, with the orchestra director trumpeted as Australias great violinist in the advance publicity. Whether this was accurate, albeit a lapse of good taste, it is not for me to say. It should however be noted that although it was almost hard to find the names of Amir Farid, piano, Lachlan Bramble, violin, and Ewen Bramble, cello, on the MRC program, the trio comprises musicians who could take their place on any world stage without needing to advertise their prowess, their musicality and their cohesion as an ensemble. Conservative audiences will have welcomed Beethovens oft-performed Piano Trio in B flat, Op 97Archduke. But to my mind, it was the new work by Melbourne composer Nicholas Buc that was the highlight of the night. Trailer Music was commissioned by the Benaud Trio for their 2010 season and, as the title suggests, owes much to the world of cinema. A stagy tango bursts through an early jazz-like subject, with one surprise being the cello upstaging the violin in romance. Another was the Bach-like fugue which kept the piano at a distance before at last joining the dance of the strings. Farids light but technically brilliant style was well suited to this music, with Bucs clever shifts in timing lending the work its modernity while paying homage to time-honoured conventions of music for film. After a series of clever transitions between styles, including a series of unison phrases played by the strings and a showy run on the keyboard just for fun the lead-up to the big filmic subject did not disappoint. Here was Hollywood in its heyday, with a sense of fun never far away. All the work needs now is a purpose-written film to show it off properly! After interval, the Benaud Trio gave a sensitive and faithful rendition of the Archduke. The opening was, quite rightly, gentle; this was about the melody (rather than the power) of Beethoven, so much so that its immediate appeal was quite Mozartian. The scherzo continued this impression of delicacy, moving through the mysteriously chromatic middle section without drawing undue attention to it and easing back into the lighter mood of the opening. Farid opened the andante cantabile, which was so reminiscent of some of Beethovens piano sonatas that it was almost a shock when the strings entered and the players exploited the possibilities for deeply enriched harmonies. The Benaud Trio showed a mastery of the subtle variations in tempo and finely judged the moods of this long, almost hypnotic movement. An emphatic chord signalled transition to the final movement, with its light, dance-like subject. The players timing was so perfect that they made it appear easy and this made for very easy listening, in the true sense of the word. Finally, the Benauds chose not to play last years favourite encore, Bohemian Rhapsody but in a similar spirit, gave us Stairway to Heaven. It was a most appropriate ending to a fine concert.