2 Dec 2022
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NZTrio - Gig Review: NZTrio @ Pah Homestead, Auckland - 06/11/2022

08 Nov 2022 // A review by Clare Martin
NZTrio treated us to some very tasty mouthfuls of their Legacy 3 programme on Sunday night at Auckland’s Pah Homestead. It was the final third of their Legacy series, marking their proud twenty-year anniversary. The series juxtaposes masterpieces of Western classical music with contemporary works; an appropriate way to mark an anniversary. The boutique setting of the Homestead’s Gallery was an intimate way to share in the artistry that is the Trio’s hallmark.

NZTrio have presented many programmes of high impact - the colourful Stratus of 2021, the powerful Tectonic Shifts of 2018, the diverse Interfusions of 2020 - Legacy 3 however perhaps didn’t present as strongly or cohesively. Each of the pieces were well worth our engagement and there is no doubt that all three of the NZTrio musicians are some of Aotearoa’s most fearsome classical music talents. But the weight of the programme tended towards forte and quite confronting colours. The opening two works by Schumann didn’t truly provide a solid enough bookend to frame the contemporary centre of the programme or balance the extrovert nature of the final work by Tchaikovsky.

There was enjoyment to be had in the opening however with Schumann’s almost vampish Nicht zu schnell and an Adagio that was delightful in its ‘remix’ of J S Bach. Beautiful voice leading from Amalia Hall on violin and Ashley Brown on cello in the canonic section.

The delicacy and detail of this classical start to the programme was somewhat quashed by the might of Gao Ping’s Searching for the Mountain next. I embraced and loved this strong and exciting work. Here were the jagged pinnacles and terrifying ravines of the Tibetan peaks. From the get-go we are on the screes and rocky ascents with glimpses of pristine peaks. There were bursts of angularity from the strings underpinned by the piano’s deep and awe-inspiring chords. Brown on cello and Hall on violin matched their string textures with extreme skill, swooping and sliding together on ice. Somi Kim on piano was the counterpoint first with percussive runs then reaching into the piano’s body to pluck single notes which seemed to resonate infinitely.

After Gao Ping’s bold piece, the return to ‘safe ground’ was the first movement from Gunther Schuller’s Trio of 1984.If all three movements were performed last night it would have continued into some playful jazz influences. But the opening movement was avant-garde classical composition and our ears and senses were still resounding with those mountain ranges. Here was stylish playing from all three performers however, and flashes of fun with flirtatious waltz rhythms. And to hear the full experience, as Hall pointed out, you would have to book for the full-length programme.

Finally, the mighty Russian Grandfather Tchaikovsky to finish this Legacy series. The first phrases of the Piano Trio in A Minor Opus 50 held all the sweet ache of this memoriam to Tchaikovsky’s friend, the great pianist Nikolai Rubinstein. Hall on violin dug deep to wrench the despair from the phrases with answering passion from Brown on cello. It was evident that here was a trio of friends on stage who understood the richness of friendship and the pain of loss. This was a glorious interchange of rich Romantic phrases and some astonishing virtuosic playing from Kim on the piano, representing Rubinstein’s own lyrical genius. Here was a dazzling show from NZTrio and their finest hour on the stage in this beautiful evening of music.

They were recalled to play an encore of Peter Kiesewetter’s Tango Pathétique. A little ‘amuse-bouche’ to raise a smile and a glass to celebrate twenty years of Aotearoa’s beloved NZTrio.


Photo Credit Jennifer Raoult

 

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