At 28, Amalia Hall is one of our country's finest young violinists.
Hall's many successes on the international competition circuit speak for themselves, occasioning a guest turn on Paul Henry's breakfast show last year and two recordings on the prestigious American Bridge label.
When I met Clive Greensmith, Tokyo Quartet's cellist, he confessed to be a fervent admirer after playing Borodin with her in Florida. "Any country that can produce such a well-put-together player as Amalia must have some great things happening in it musically," was his unbidden testament.
On home shores and now concert master of Orchestra Wellington, in November Hall premiered Claire Cowan's new violin concerto, homage to dancer Freda Stark. It was a novel staging where Hall stood on a plinth, mid-orchestra, and changed costumes for each movement, from black to gold, the colour associated with Stark's legendary 1940s performances at Auckland's Wintergarden.
For Hall, the priority is understanding composers through their whole output.
"I've always loved Brahms," she says.
Studying at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, she played both Brahms symphonies and chamber music, and his symphonies were also programmed during her 10 years in the NZSO National Youth Orchestra.
"I love being able to get the broader perspective of what a composer is trying to do," Hall says. "If I played just his violin sonatas, it would be so much harder to make them convincing."
Brahms' music has such gravity, she says, it demands you sit and listen to it.
"I couldn't imagine listening to Brahms if I were off on a run. It would be too overwhelming."
Brahms, Mozart and Grieg are on the bill for Hall's recital with Christopher Park, a talented young pianist with two Deutsche Grammophon albums to his credit. Their first collaboration was in concert at Frankfurt.
Hall says Park is not the kind of pianist who sits back and lets the violinist take the stage.
"The combination of violin and piano is such a powerful one," she says, pointing out how you can achieve so much when, in a real chamber music environment, there is mutual inspiration flowing between players.
Hall, who enthusiastically endorses busking as a worthwhile means of putting classical music before those who might otherwise not hear it, enjoys the intimate thread that connects musicians and audience in the concert hall.
Concerned that fast movements can wash over the audience, not allowing them to take so much in, she favours the slower ones where there's the time and space to put so much into every note.
"You can load so much emotion and expression into the music that it's almost possible for one single note to express a whole world."
What: Amalia Hall and Christopher Park in recital
Where and when: The University of Auckland Music Theatre, Thursday, 7.30pm