Concert review: NZTrio, Q Theatre Loft

By William Dart

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Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

NZTrio has found the perfect mid-city home in Q Theatre's Loft, and perhaps it was the theatrical connection that made the pre-concert crush in the lobby so exciting on Sunday. The series was launched earlier this year, setting a template with something Spanish, a Dvorak Trio and a generous helping of contemporary.

Tonight we were introduced to Granados' little-known 1894 Piano Trio, a work written some years before the composer found more fruitful inspiration in the paintings of Goya. It rambled rather and, while the musicians could not quite smooth over the compositional awkwardness of its first movement, the Scherzetto had a coquettish brio and the Duetto a Mediterranean expansiveness.

It certainly highlighted Dvorak's superior skill in his 1876 G minor Trio that closed the concert. Here was music that needed no pleading advocacy; just freshness and spirit, both of which these players have plenty. The Allegro moderato almost toppled over itself with bubbling energy, sustaining a sense of anticipation from one rippling delight to another. The rich sonorities of Ashley Brown's cello set the tone for the lyrical Largo, while the irrepressible humour of the Finale suggested that Dvorak was positively Haydnesque.

On the contemporary side, Nigel Westlake's efficiently composed Urban Myths was rather overshadowed by Wellingtonian Karlo Margetic's Lightbox. Brown warned us of its complexities but advised us to enjoy the general ride and it was a high-adrenalin jaunt that seemed to pick up where Michael Norris's Dirty Pixels, NZTrio's "hit" of some years back, left off.

Margetic stages some mighty eruptions, in which strings scratch and shriek, and pianist Sarah Watkins flaunts Lisztian flair, but one never loses track of the opening motif that provides a backbone. And the calm patches between the storms are exquisitely drawn.

NZTrio is justly proud of its commissioning of our composers. They bring it back in concert - most recently at the museum - and have committed it to CD. In doing so they have created a storehouse of taonga, of which Karlo Margetic's Lightbox is one of the most treasurable.

- NZ Herald

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