NZTrio opened its 2022 Legacy series on Sunday with a programme which reflected the wealth of repertoire that these musicians have explored over the past 20 years.
First off were two of Schumann's rarely heard Six Pieces in Canon Form, originally written for pedal piano and freely arranged for piano trio by Theo Kirchner. We were elegantly swept from flowing Bachian flurries to an Andantino infused with a genuine romantic bloom.
Tonight's first highlight was a new commission from Michael Norris, whose brilliant 2004 Dirty Pixels became a bit of a funky signature piece for NZTrio.
Horizon Fields was inspired by an Antony Gormley sculpture, a suspended and shiny platform that was a participatory favourite at Hamburg's 2012 Documenta art fair. Norris catches Gormley's visual shimmers, shivers and reflections in highly finessed sound, exquisitely spun out over the reassuring security of one note firmly sounding throughout.
It was well sustained in its tensions, with intricate string writing set against the primal thuds and glittering cascades that Somi Kim delivered from inside and outside the piano.
A jazzy Trio by Ukrainian composer Nikolai Kapustin was a crowd-pleaser. Amalia Hall invested its bluesy Andante with just the right shapeliness and Kim expertly navigated pages of Soviet-style boogie-woogie; but for me, at 20 minutes, it rather overstayed its welcome.
When NZTrio tackled Beethoven's Archduke Trio 12 years ago in the more intimate setting of Auckland Museum's Auditorium, one felt that this great work wanted to break loose and shout from the rooftops.
Tonight, the players gave this titanic score the space and substance it demands, revelling in the bold contrasts of its mighty first movement. Beethoven's spiky scamper of a scherzo came with a chromatic trio every bit as giddy-making as Gormley's wobbly floor.
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At encore time, revealing just how thoughtfully these musicians curate their concerts, we were charmed by an unassuming Kirchner miniature, proving that he was a little more than just an arranger of other's music.
Where: Town Hall Concert Chamber
Reviewer: William Dart