Concert review: NZTrio, Q Theatre

By William Dart

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NZTrio ended the year with their stylish mix. Photo / Supplied
NZTrio ended the year with their stylish mix. Photo / Supplied

NZTrio signed off for the year with the familiar mix that these musicians do so well. It was a well-proportioned banquet, with Spanish for starters, followed by a touch of contemporary from both sides of the Tasman, and ending with a main course of solid Dvorak.

Joaquin Turina's Second Piano Trio must be the group's most rewarding Iberian investigation to date. The piece may have been conservative for 1933 but its frank melodiousness was irresistible. It took only a few bars for the players to draw us into Turina's world, hypnotised by his wafting two-bar phrases. Occasionally, one was taken offguard by fluttering muted strings or a wash of Debussian piano chords.

The ultimate reward was a big-hearted, sun-soaked Finale.

Turina's sunshine was countered by the wintry gloom of Gordon Kerry's Im Winde, another of the group's generous nods to Australian composers. Pianist Sarah Watkins introduced the piece as cool, quite dark and perhaps a little moody; the musicians brought this out but, despite some effective scurrying in the strings, it was somewhat icebound.

NZTrio has every right to be very proud of its latest commission, Alex Taylor's burlesques mecaniques, and they delivered it accordingly.

The young composer's prologue (marked "dark and seedy") introduced a line-up of wittily skewed dances, setting off in skittish ragtime. The most alluring was a spanner in which Ashley Brown's "habanera" cello held its ground against clustering rhythmic distractions.

Tumbledry, thanks to Watkins, offered a few seconds of boogie-woogie fury, and yet gas/sisyphus dispensed airier beauties over malevolent stalkings.

Some jaded concertgoers may approach Dvorak's Dumky Trio with a certain steely acceptance. How-ever, there was no need for such when, after interval, NZTrio responded to its charms with such punch and vitality, setting the big dance moments of the first movement in the conviviality of a tavern.

Elsewhere, when Dvorak waxes sentimental, the musicians gauged it perfectly, with some breath-stopping silky string chords.

NZTrio is playing in Wellington tomorrow night, with an amended version of this programme.

What: NZTrio
Where: Loft at Q, Sunday

- NZ Herald

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