Violinist takes final bow

It was a charged atmosphere as violinist Justine Cormack signed off after 15 years at NZTrio’s Swoop concert.

Frank Bridge’s Phantasie in c minor is an elegiac rhapsody from that musical no man’s land between the 19th and 20th centuries.  It’s many moods were perfectly captured, with Bridge’s penultimate Andante a vision of Rachmaninov in an English country garden.

Two recent offerings reminded us of the NZTrio’s lively commissioning policy. Chris Gendall’s Ducet Tones created pinprick colours with a plethora of string techniques and keyboard flourishes, making it seem like an exotic private ritual, a soundworld complementing Shen Nalin’s Meng Yuan that followed.

This transcription of an earlier piece for guzheng and trio called for much zithering on piano strings. On the whole, however, it was more effective in ominous drone and reverb mode than in its banal climax catching, in Ashley Browns’ words, “a whole room full of percussion instruments really going for it”.

After interval, Schubert’s B flat major Piano Trio provided a surfeit of sweet melodies tinted with melancholy.

William Dart, NZ Herald

May 2017

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