Xenia Pestova is a pianist with a rare combination of talents: a refined and sensitive technique, powerful musical perceptive and an imaginative sense for musical adventure.
She brought all of these into play on what is one of the most flexible and responsive of musical instruments, and gave a recital of extraordinary tonal diversity.
For her rich and varied programme she drew on an impressive musical experience: early life in Russia, settlement in Wellington, and then a life of study, performance and teaching around the world.
Direct contact with many contemporary composers has been a strong influence on her choice of music for a programme with works by eight contemporary composers, and by a few established ones like Bach and Scarlatti.
This gave pointed contrasts between the new and the old, all enlivened by a revealing commentary which drew together similarities and influences.
There were many strange and absorbing tones to captivate the audience through the concert, but three works illustrate the range: the haunting atmosphere of 'Gothic', written by her husband, Irish-born Ed Bennett, and inspired by Notre Dame Cathedral; tangible sounds in 'Birds and Insects' by the American composer Arlene Sierra; and 'The Grey Ghost', an evocation by piano and electronic sounds of the Kokako's song by the New Zealand composer Miriama Young.
- By Hanno Fairburn
Who: Xenia Pestova
Where: Banquet Room