Chamber Music New Zealand Concert
Violinist Suyeon Kang with pianist Stephen de Pledge
Century Theatre, Napier, Sunday, July 10
Music by Schubert, Ravel, Mozart, Stravinsky and Kenneth Young
Reviewed by Peter Williams

It was great pleasure to hear violinist Suyeon Kang again, having heard her performances when she won the 2015 Michael Hill International Violin Competition. This concert was the last of 11 in a nationwide tour, part of the winner's prize package.

Each contestant was required to play the very personal commissioned unaccompanied solo, Gone, by New Zealand composer Kenneth Young. This piece showed the ultimate skill of Suyeon Kang, as she drew such beauty and depth of expression from the Guadagnini violin loaned to her by Sir Michael Hill.

Either side of this piece were works by Schubert and Stravinsky. Each of the four brief movements of the Sonatina in G minor conveyed the essential song-like character of Schubert's music in a well-balanced performance between Kang and pianist Stephen de Pledge.


Even better was to come in the final work on the programme - Stravinsky's Divertimento. This seemed to be the epitome of all that an audience wants to hear in chamber music - a conversation between the instruments that highlighted the facets of every detail of the music.

The performance was magical in its effect, holding the rapt attention of the large audience which erupted in enthusiastic applause at the end.

With more than a nod to Stravinsky's predecessor Tchaikowsky, the Pas de deux finale was an aural representation of the dance, expressed in superbly balanced playing, ending in a spectacular closing section.

In the first half of the programme there was much to admire in the playing of the single movement Sonata in A minor by Ravel, where the composer's unique and distinctive character in the music was clearly conveyed, but the opening Sonata in E flat major, K 380 by Mozart was disappointing.

While perhaps not the most engaging of the many duo-sonatas Mozart wrote, the piano part was too heavy throughout so that frequently the eloquent violin part was obscured.

No such problem with the encore - Debussy's Bon Soir - the perfect ending to this final concert of the tour. Replacing the pre-concert talk, there was a sparkling performance of part of Destenay's Trio in C minor by the Destenay Trio of oboeist Darcy Snell, clarinetist Hayden Snell and pianist Tobias Tedjamukti, winners of the H District Final of the recent NZ Community Trust Chamber Music Competition.