Evening of perfect musical bliss.

It was an evening of perfect musical bliss.

Naturally, I expected nothing less when British clarinet virtuoso, Julian Bliss, teamed up with the NZTrio – Justine Cormack (violin), Ashley Brown (cello) and Sarah Watkins, (piano) – for a programme of 20th and 21st century chamber music.

Bliss and Watkins opened proceedings in style with Claude Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie. Bliss drew out every subtle nuance of this sunny piece, tackling Debussy’s rapidly shifting tempos and lush musical textures with a panache which made the performance so enjoyable.

Having whetted the audience’s appetite, he was joined by Cormack for more Gallic charm in the form of Darius Milhaud’s Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano. This was a highly-polished interpretation of a work which is quintessentially French. But dismiss it as a trifling piece of musical fluff at your peril. Milhaud deserves respect – and he received it with a focused, cohesive and satisfying interpretation from three musicians who obviously enjoyed playing it together.

Then a shift of mood and pace, with New Zealand composer Ross Harris’s There May Be Light. Commissioned by Chamber Music New Zealand for Julian Bliss and the NZTrio, it presents an enigmatic musical world where delicate skeins of sound seamlessly float, connect and disconnect. Together, the four players confronted the work’s complexities and demanding techniques with total respect and sensitivity, deftly exploring Harris’s elusive musical moods in a way which highlighted the work’s elusive nature.

The final piece was perhaps the most challenging for the musicians and the audience. In the 76 years since it was first performed in a bleak German prisoner-of-war camp, Olivier Messiaen’s 1940 Quartet For the End of Time has an undeserved reputation as an unapproachable musical monolith. Bliss and NZTrio together dispelled this myth with highly charged playing, which reflected the music’s ecstatic spirituality and profound beauty. It was an extraordinary performance, especially Ashley Brown’s extended cello solo in the fifth movement. I’ve rarely sensed an audience become so deeply absorbed. – and moved – by music. But it would be wrong to single out one player in a performance which on all levels – musically, artistically and emotionally – achieved such excellence.

Christopher Moore, The Christchurch Press – 31st July 2016

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NZTrio
NZTrioWednesday, August 16th, 2017 at 12:44pm
Excellent vibes in Loft last night at the last Auckland performance of Spiral. Last chance to catch it live will be in Wellington on Aug 22nd. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11903950
NZTrio
NZTrioTuesday, August 8th, 2017 at 12:57pm
About to switch on RNZ Concert@upbeat with Eva to hear her talk to our guest violinist Natalie Lin and Ashley. Do join us!
NZTrio
NZTrioThursday, July 27th, 2017 at 2:54pm
Samuel Holloway (and pug Sam) discusses his new work Corpse and Mirror - to be unveiled soon at Spiral performances in August. PLEASE SHARE :)
Visit nztrio.com/event-directory for more details and booking info. https://vimeo.com/226079591
NZTrio
Samuel Holloway and NZTrio
NZ Composer Samuel Holloway (and pug Sam) discusses his new commission for NZTrio's 2nd 2017 Loft Series concert: Spiral.
vimeo.com
NZTrio
NZTrioFriday, July 21st, 2017 at 12:10pm
Warm congrats to our designers at AREA Design for a well-deserved win at the 2017 PANZ Book Awards http://www.bookdesignawards.co.nz/beach-life-penguin-random-house-new-zealand-award-for-best-illustrated-book-2017-winner/
NZTrio
NZTrioWednesday, July 19th, 2017 at 10:31am
For those in or near Wellington, you may want to check out Orchestra Wellington's latest offering (Aug 5): Ravel’s 1912 Daphnis and Chloe
- a 20th century masterpiece rarely heard in its entirety

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