NZTrio performed an excellent concert, with repertoire that traversed the divide between the old world and the new world; between Western classical music and Oriental classical and folk music.
Korngold’s late romantic work, the Piano Trio Op 1 was well-balanced with the multi-faceted textures successfully portrayed where Justine Cormack exploited the light and shade with lovely string hues with Sarah Watkins’ sympathetic piano colours. The scherzo was humorous; the larghetto was soulful and tender and the finale, allegro molto e energico was expansive and vital.
Claire Cowan’s Subtle Dances was imaginative and deeply rewarding with a witty and very rhythmic tango and the third movement used minimalist techniques to great effect.
Bright Sheng’s Four Movements for Piano Trio was a breath of fresh air with the oriental tonal tradition coming to the fore. Based on traditional Chinese folk songs, this provided a different harmonic palette with a liberating effect, being more spacious. The third movement was fast and frantic while the final short nostalgia floated with ethereal simplicity; beautiful.
In Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No 2 in E minor Op 67 the opening andante, an incredibly difficult passage on the cello; all harmonics was where Ashley Brown set the scene for the performance; icily breathtaking. The dance allegro con brio was frenzied and full of vitality. In the largo, Watkins’s chord playing on the piano was expressively weighted and soulful. The dark, slow, and sombre melodic lines for violin and cello were poetic. The final allegretto – adagio or ‘Dance of Death’ movement, which introduced a Jewish melody, was powerful with the final major chord being both torturous and almost inaudibly full of hope. Magnificent music making!
Andrew Buchanan-Smart – Waikato Times, 16 May 2013