Music as salvation and sustained beauty

It is 75 years ago that French composer Olivier Messiaen wrote his Quartet for the End of Time. The circumstances of its composition were extraordinary. It was written and performed in a German concentration camp in the depths of winter, 1941.

Messiaen wrote it to bring “eternal light and unalterable peace” to all people. Seventy-five years later, a 27-year-old British clarinettist and the NZTrio are fulfilling Messiaen’s promise, on the other side of the world, with 10 consecutive performances, from Auckland to Invercargill, of this quartet. Bliss believes it is “the greatest piece of chamber music ever written”.

The music depicts angels, jubilant bird song, rainbows, furious apocalyptic trumpets, tenderness and ecstasy. I loved the infinitely slow cello solo, in praise of the eternity of Jesus, and the clarinet solo, the abyss of the birds, full of sustained beauty.

The audience were overwhelmed, as I was, right to the last expansive violin melody floating upward to heaven.

No less ethereal was Ross Harris’s commissioned piece, “There May Be Light”. He wrote this as a companion piece to the Messiaen. But his music was in soft, hushed gestures, exploring and balancing micro-tones, deliberately discordant, as if unable to stay ‘in tune”, capturing the subdued, speechless silence of captivity and uncertainty in a prisoner-of-war camp. A challenging and engrossing composition, meditating on the fragility of life.

The first two items were contrasting twentieth-century French pieces. Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie, written in 1909 for solo clarinet, was performed with unfaltering musicality by Julian Bliss. He has unbelievable dynamic range and soulful tone.

Darius Milhaud’s Suite, written in 1936 as incidental music for Jean Anouilh’s play about an amnesiac war veteran, was jaunty and playful, influenced by Latin folk music and jazz. It was light-hearted, but further illustrated the theme of human adaptability and the loss of sanity in the face of war.

This was a superb concert, unforgettable for the commitment and energy of the musicians and their technical perfection.

Margot Hannigan, Nelson Mail – 2 August 2016

Review by:

Subscribe to E-news

Latest from Facebook

NZTrio
NZTrioSunday, March 29th, 2020 at 4:30pm
Performed by NZTrio at their concert 'Twine', Q Theatre Loft, 13 November 2018.
NZTrio
NZTrioMonday, March 23rd, 2020 at 4:41pm
NZTrio's April concerts have officially been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions :( We hope to bring you the Origins programme at a later date, however refunds can be sought via #QTheatre if you don't want to defer. Subscribe to our newsletters to get up to date info as things unfold: https://nztrio.com/subscribe/ #supportthearts Stay safe out there, let's look after one another xo - https://mailchi.mp/35aa67eba52f/nztrio-covid19-origins-cancellation-3246965
NZTrio
NZTrioSaturday, March 14th, 2020 at 4:13pm
My 17th episode features a chat with an old uni friend: Kiwi violinist and avid consumer of icecream Amalia Hall, whom I caught up with while she was in London Listen to us chat about collaborating with living composers, staying positive and well during travelling, her roles as a soloist, concertmaster of Orchestra Wellington and violinist of NZTrio, and adjusting to your teachers becoming your colleagues.



This episode features a very topical "music college didn't prepare me" segment about health and hygiene. Want to feature in this segment? Let me know: asitcomespodcast@gmail.com

Follow and like the podcast and Assistant Purr-ducer Romeo's latest antics on Facebook and Instagram: @asitcomespod

Rate and review on Apple Podcasts!

Follow Amalia on social media @amaliaviolin
NZTrio
As It Comes Podcast
My 17th episode features a chat with an old uni friend: Kiwi violinist and avid consumer of icecream Amalia Hall, whom I caught up with while she was in London Listen to us chat about collaborating with living composers, staying positive and well during travelling, her roles as a soloist, concertmaster of Orchestra Wellington and violinist of NZTrio, and adjusting to your teachers becoming your colleagues. This episode features a very topical "music college didn't prepare me" segment about health and hygiene. Want to feature in this segment? Let me know: asitcomespodcast@gmail.com Follow and like the podcast and Assistant Purr-ducer Romeo's latest antics on Facebook and Instagram: @asitcomespod Rate and review on Apple Podcasts! Follow Amalia on social media @amaliaviolin

Latest from Twitter

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