For those who have experienced NZTrio only on CD, and only in new music, this concert was a salutary experience, as it displayed their talents in music from the musical mainstream. The Chopin Piano Trio dates from 1829 so it is a very early work, and it displays little of the characteristic Chopin of his later years in Paris. The first movement is very reminiscent of Hummel, the slow movement threatens to give us some typical Chopinesque poetry without quite managing, and the finale has some small reminders of the E minor Piano Concerto. Still, when played as well as it was here it was highly enjoyable. Even more enjoyable was Saint-Saens’ Piano Trio No 2.A much more accomplished work with a finer mix of all three instruments, this demanded real virtuosity with the piano given a real workout. It was huge fun – Saint-Saens seemed incapable of composing a dull note – and it received a stunning performance.
But, for me, the premiere performance of David Hamilton’s The Faraday Cage was the concert highlight. The writing for all three instruments was both accomplished and highly imaginative, without recourse to gimmickry, yet the flicker of electricity (the Faraday Cage was designed in the 19th century to block electrostatic electricity) was beautifully suggested in all three movements. There is flickering tremolos, pizzicatos, and a little playing with the piano’s internal strings – but it was all to a purpose, and quite beautifully played. Those who know Hamilton only from his large number of choral works would be surprised by the sheer assurance of this work – it deserves a wider audience and I can imaging piano trios everywhere showing an interest in the work.
John Button – Dominion Post, 17 Sept 2015