Where: Town Hall Concert Chamber
Reviewer: William Dart
NZTrio continues to strive onward and upward with Dramatic Skies, its aptly named 2021 season, consisting of three concerts titled Stratus, Cumulus and Cirrus.
Not only do they aim onward and upward but also around the globe, with Sunday night's Stratus programme beaming out online to the world, which may have occasioned the camera-friendly repositioning of players from the stage to the floor of the hall.
Rachmaninov's popular Trio Elegiaque set the scene with Somi Kim waxing dramatically behind Amalia Hall and Ashley Brown's murmuring strings, soon to be drawn into heart-tugging duet.
As we have come to expect with NZTrio, this performance was as stimulating to the eye as the ear, thanks to these musicians' energetic and engaged collegiality.
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Romanticism also ruled at the end of the evening, in Chausson's lush 1881 piano trio. No emotions were held back for a composer who, perhaps tragically, seemed unaware of the 20th century looming ahead.
A melodious Elegie by Josef Suk was delivered with a seriousness that flattered its modest salon proportions, before tribute was paid to Haydn, who might well be hailed as the Father of the Piano Trio.
While his G major Trio certainly burst into full sparkle for its celebrated gypsy finale, one also appreciated the graceful lines of its opening Andante and remarkable emotional substance of its slow movement.
Over the years, NZTrio have commissioned a wealth of local music and on Sunday night Claire Cowan's 2015 Ultra Violet impressed with its buoyant poise, teasing shifts of metre and patterning allaying any fear of easy prettiness.
Reuben de Lautour may well have used a stethoscope to investigate the sounds that went into his new An Auscultation of Water. Of course Kim's piano offered an ingenious storehouse of watery effects, yet the strings came up with one of the best, their massive chords catching the moment when ripple escalates into roaring torrent.