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Concert Reviews

Concert Review: NZTrio's Interfusions a cross-genre triumph

Clare Martin

It was with a real sense of celebration that the NZTrio began their Interfusions concert at the Wallace Arts Trust, Pah Homestead, Auckland on Saturday night. Albeit with social distancing, it was still a joy to be out at this beautiful venue, having emerged from Auckland’s level 2 restrictions.

It was only the second time this year the Trio had performed in their home base of Auckland. For a debut performance of this programme, the Trio seemed super comfortable with the entire repertoire of the evening. From Beethoven through three contemporary works to a finisher of Ravel, all were delivered with ravishing ease.  

An ebullient start with Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, one of the composer’s early trios which launched his career. Not only have performers been anxiously treading water this year during Covid, but Ludwig must have been getting impatient waiting for his 250th birthday celebrations to really get going.  The first movement was brimful of brio and a fitting tribute to the Master.

A jewel of contemporary composition next, a new composer for me and on the New Zealand concert scene. Written in the year 2000, Greek-Canadian composer Christos Hatzis’s Constantinople: Old Photographs is a work that deserves to be performed in it’s full eight movements at some point. Somi Kim on piano framed the beginning with great tenderness, the strings adding threads of nostalgia. The piece takes you through a picture album, there are witty moments and reminiscences before the piece builds into a frenzy of Piazzolla-like tango rhythms.  The audience audibly loved it and the Trio seemed to be having a great time.

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Great programming to place a new commission next from Aotearoa’s Salina Fisher, a work which held spell-binding aural spaces joined with shimmering timbres. Describing Kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold, the work highlights the cracks instead of lamenting the damage. It is a work of much maturity from a composer only born in 1993, Fisher seems to understand how to draw extraordinarily beautiful sounds from the Trio instruments. It is a work of fragility via wisps of string harmonics and strength in the suspended dissonances.

A robust piece was next with huge rhythmic dynamism in the cross-genre Love Triangle. Composer Dinuk Wijeratne fuses funky beats with Indian tabla-like dance rhythms, all delivered with fiery brilliance by the Trio. The eye-wateringly fast tempi had pianist Kim leaping off her stool. Ashley Brown on cello and Amalia Hall on violin unleashed improvised ‘riffs’ in a jazz version of the Middle Eastern stringed Oud. An absolute showcase in speed and adroit rhythm. 

This Pah Homestead concert was a taster for NZTrio’s Interfusions series, and left the audience wanting more. Especially more Ravel, please. His Piano Trio in A minor written in 1914 at the onset of World War II with its aching themes brought a tear to the eye. Played with such tenderness and passion by the Trio, Hall’s voice-leading was if Ravel had penned it with her in mind. Aside from the very interesting contemporary repertoire, the two core repertoire pieces of Beethoven and Ravel are more than worth witnessing. See this full programme at a venue near you, I’ll wager it’s one of the best chamber music concerts you will have the fortune to attend.

Interfusions BOOKINGS here

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Written By: Clare Martin Clare has performed as an opera, recital and oratorio artist in UK most notably the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, London. In NZ she has performed with NZ Opera and with the NZ Symphony Orchestra but more recently she has moved into a wider range of contemporary genres including jazz and even Leonard Cohen. Since 2008 Clare has been teaching from her own music studio working with professional and beginner singers. In 2017 she was a mentor on TVNZ’s The Naked Choir working with a cappella choirs and she currently coaches barbershop and a woman’s ensemble.