The final instalment of NZTrio's Tectonicseries confirmed that the group's 2019 line-up of Amalia Hall, Ashley Brown and Somi Kim is a winner.
Nothing was held back in a concert that, once again, paired New Zealand and British composers with a musical confrontation of Russian and American superpowers.
Just when one was becoming weary of the cute Frank Bridge miniatures sprinkled throughout the Tectonic playlists, here they sat alongside more substantial fare.
While a deft completion of unfinished Elgar was invested with an appropriately late romantic glow, two contemporary works dealt out welcome astringencies.
Charlotte Bray's That Crazed Smile easily entrapped us in its spidery sonic web; it was a timely choice, with its composer receiving two Ivor Novello Awards in London this month.
Ashley Brown, introducing the issue of colonial conflict, described Samuel Holloway's Stapes as a lone soldier from New Zealand putting up a mighty fight.
Commissioned 14 years ago, this piece has done valiant warrior duties in concert halls around the world. With its enviable conciseness and adroit play with wisps and whips of sound, one could hear why it is so suited to that role.
In previous Tectonic programmes, the struggle between the superpowers has been an uneven contest. Here, while Shostakovich's Second Piano Trio provided a breathtakingly dramatic finale, with its ghostly harmonics, searingly emotional Largoand uninhibited folkish fury, there was no shortage of competitive bristle and gristle in Charles Ives' 1911 Trio that preceded it.
This American composer's idiosyncratic blend of defiance and rough-hewn energy exploded in a second movement titled "This Scherzo is a Joke," with its wild mix of well-known tunes, from hymns to Stephen Foster, tossed about in dizzying anarchy.
Yet this was not all music to make us gasp. Kim's elegant piano chords in the opening Moderato revealed the prophetic Ives, anticipating the cool harmonies of later jazzmen such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.
Where: Auckland Art Gallery
Reviewer: William Dart