Chamber Music concert in New Plymouth was one to savour

A number of regular Chamber Music NZ patrons missed Monday evening’s concert. A great pity as both the playing and the programme were superb.

Written near the end of Brahms’s life the Trio for clarinet, cello and piano contains many appealing melodic lines. British clarinettist Julian Bliss, along with cellist Ashley Brown and pianist Sarah Watkins from NZTrio shared their enjoyment with their listeners throughout.

The adagio was a beautifully sustained duet between clarinet and cello, the waltz-style third movement joyously rolled along and the finale finished with flourishing elan.

New Zealand composer Ross Harris’s short piece There may be light, a commission for this tour, was a real adventure in sound for the players using unusual techniques, and for the listeners having to let go of the usual connections based on rhythm, melody and harmony. I adopted a star-gazing approach and basked in the wonder of it all.

The raison d’etre for this tour is the iconic Quartet for the End of Time, written by Olivier Messiaen after being captured and interned by the Germans early in WWII. The eight spell-binding movements provide an escape to “eternal peace”.

I simply don’t have words, or space, to convey the delights of this performance – a few highlights will have to suffice: the beautiful melody in octaves in Vocalise for the Angel; Bliss’s masterly solo Abyss of the Birds (I have never (on any instrument) heard sounds started so imperceptibly); the glorious cello solo In Praise of the Eternity with just the right weight of piano chords; absolutely perfect unison throughout Furious Dance for Seven Trumpets; and the exquisite timelessness and peace of the final In Praise of the Immortality of Jesus.

This concert was one to savour forever.

Allan Purdy, Taranaki Daily News – 26 July 2016

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