A stunning performance played with expert technique and deep feeling


NZTrio gave a stunning performance of “TwinePieces”, their new programme of five works, last night in the Len Lye Gallery at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery.

Founder member and cellist Ashley Brown was joined by new members Amalia Hall (violin) and Somi Kim (piano), replacing retired former members, Justine Cormack and Sarah Watkins. It might have been a new line-up, but these musicians (each a multiple award-winner with outstanding lists of achievements) played as if they had been working together for years. Everything was beautifully matched: the bowing techniques, the dynamics, the tones, the passing of melodies from one instrument to another. Their communication with one another seemed instinctive, and the instruments blended seamlessly into an organic whole.

The emotional link between the performers was matched by the intimacy with the audience. We seemed close enough to touch them (indeed, I was closer to the strings than I am when I play in an orchestra), yet the generous acoustics of the gallery blended the sound and delivered it just perfectly. Ashley demonstrated how resonant the room was with many echoes from a single clap, and in some circumstances that would be difficult to work with, but for the trio it was ideal.

[As a footnote, some of us wondered why the staff didn’t turn off the audio exhibits in the neighbouring galleries, which were slightly distracting, with ghostly sounds or burst of conversation at inopportune moments. The answer was, they did their very best, but apparently it takes a cherry-picker to get to the roof cavity to do so! In the end, you just accepted it as part of the ambience and the experience.]

The trio have embraced new technology, in the form of tablets and foot pedals in the place of shuffled pages of music and hurried page turns. You can see its appeal, and it is likely to be the way of the future.

The programme was a well-chosen mix of the new and the familiar. The opening work “Mishima” by Philip Glass was much less challenging for the audience than one might anticipate. The trio made the “repetitive structures” always interesting, with variations of tone and dynamics, and the shifts to melodic interludes always came just in time, giving a really appealing and moving short piece.

Then we had the first movement of Robert Schumann’s Piano Trio in F major. It is marked “very lively” and it certainly was. There were gorgeous, romantic melodies shared between the instruments, moments of great passion and intricate textures. The ensemble was immaculate, and we admired in turn the glorious depth of tone in the cello, the warm, rich singing of the violin and the virtuosity brought to the piano part.

Next was “Rush” a piece by Australian composer Matthew Hindson. Apparently it was inspired by both the spirit of Mendelssohn’s string writing and techno music. Certainly the latter was discernible. I confess I am not as familiar as I should be with Mendelssohn’s later string works, and lack a degree in music, so the reference rather passed me by. It seemed to me to be closer to bluegrass and country. At some points Ashley Brown looked to be channelling the 2 Cellos’ version of heavy metal pieces (with a lot more finesse and a lot less damage to his bow). It was a demanding piece for audience and players, fast and furious, with dramatic climaxes, made exciting by the superb execution by the trio, and it garnered great acclaim from the audience.

A new commission by young New Zealand composer, Celeste Oram, was a blend of music and performance art, involving the audience providing written phrases which were randomly chosen and read out by the players, as well as the players drinking a toast and distributing flowers, linking to the theme of a burial at sea. Rice (?) was poured into a container on the piano keyboard, giving the sound effect of the sea as well as the visual effect of the scattering of ashes. The strings provided the sound of seagulls with descending scales and glissandi. There were poignant moments, and overall the piece was successful (probably more so if you are not the sort of person, like me, that gets distracted worrying what damage stray grains of rice might do to the piano keyboard).

The final work, the Brahms Piano Trio in B major, was everything you would want it to be. The composer was in his early twenties when he wrote it, but he revised it decades later. We could relax into the comforting familiarity of Brahms’ distinctive style, the glorious melodies played with expert technique and deep feeling by these consummate musicians. There were emotional outbursts contrasting with tenderness and peace, lively dances and lyrical passages. The tumultuous final movement still had moments of blissful calm. It was the perfect end to an outstanding concert.


Anne Bovett, New Plymouth

Taranaki Music Reviews

Review by:

Subscribe to E-news

Latest from Facebook

NZTrioSunday, May 31st, 2020 at 7:33am
May 31 NZ Music Month
Victoria Kelly - Toi Huarewa (The Suspended Way)

Victoria is perhaps most famous for her scores in films such as Black Sheep, Lovely Bones and the Hobbit, her string arrangements for artists such as Neil Finn, Shapeshifter and SJD and her music directorship of the Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony. But she also possesses a prodigious talent in composing for classical soloists and ensembles. For this piece, Victoria consulted with Tim Worrall, and Horomona Horo, to develop a new myth that examines the case moth’s near-inaudible love song and, on another level, considers Te Arai (the veil that separates us from our ancestors). Taonga Pūoro and Piano Trio combine as a single voice, at different times deeply grounded, furious and breathtakingly delicate.

#maori #mythology #femalecomposer #matariki #taongapuoro #newzealand #aotearoa #chambermusic #pianotrio #kiwimusic #nzmusicmonth #nztrio

NZTrioSaturday, May 30th, 2020 at 7:04am
May 30 NZ Music Month
Marlon Williams - Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore (with Aldous Harding)

This track showcases two of the country’s brightest rising stars, Marlon Williams and Aldous Harding, both from Lyttleton and close colleagues over many years. For a while there, they were also romantically entwined. The break up a couple of years ago was motivation for some prolific songwriting for Marlon and the result was his second album Make Room For Love. The fact that he approached Aldous to collaborate on this song is testament to the strength and longevity of their professional relationship. The track is aching with tell-tale tenderness, and hollow melancholy.

#aotearoa #kiwimusic #singersongwriter #alternative #country #folk #nzmusicmonth

Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore (with Aldous Harding) (Official Video)
Marlon Williams — Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore (with Aldous Harding) (Official Video) Make Way For Love available February 16, 2018 on Dead Oceans — ht...
NZTrioFriday, May 29th, 2020 at 9:45am
Don't need a t-shirt to participate and easy peasy to donate $3 - see details xo

Latest from Twitter

© 2015-2020
Made in Tel Aviv, Israel by Virtuti-D