Review: NZTrio

Faith-Ashleigh Wong • KeepingUpWithNZ.com

A cold and wet evening soon became the beginnings of a breathtaking musical journey as soon as the NZTrio’s silky orchestral sounds filled the air.

Somehow magically the skies seemed to lighten and the Q Theatre’s cosy Loft studio space started to feel warmer with each passing minute.

Lightbox is the ensemble’s second concert in their 2012 Auckland series and like their first concert the journey begins in Spain.  Enrique Granados’ four-part Piano Trio, Opus 50 is a wonderfully diverse display of Spanish tempo, rhythm and flavour.

The piece starts off exuding an air of sophistication and riches (think chandeliers and ballrooms) before picking up in the more playful, staccato-driven Scherzetto which was my personal favourite section.  Duetto slows things down again and is quite clearly the emotional core of the story with all three instruments coming together harmoniously as one voice.  The Finale takes after Scherzetto but with more character and gusto that is needed to build up towards the big finish.

After the elegant grandeur and rhapsodic melodies of Spain, we are introduced to Urban Myths by Nigel Westlake, a melodic and lyrical piece with a distinct story arc that came to be in the middle of Sydney suburbia.  The “urban” is definitely present and I loved that it was a story without words, a song without lyrics, but yet was still easily understandable.

The most electrifying performance for me was the piece the concert is named after – Lightbox.  Proudly homegrown and commissioned by the NZTrio themselves, I feel privileged that I was there to experience the premiere performance of Karlo Margetić’s masterpiece because that truly was what it was.  The piece is intense, often jarring and has a haphazard feel to it but yet it still manages to be melodically sound.  I was already thoroughly impressed by what this ensemble could do by this point but they truly outdid themselves in Lightbox – I have never seen fingers move so fast!

After visiting Australasia and a quick wine top up, the journey concludes in the Czech Republic with Antonín Dvořák’s four-part Piano Trio in G minor, Opus 26.  It is poetic, assertive and joyous – definitely the perfect finish to an amazing journey.

The piano, violin and cello take turns in a “turning motif” which becomes the theme throughout each set with twists and tweaks along the way.  The melody has a lot of movement primarily in terms of tempo but also with regards to the rhythm and tension.  Just like the opening Piano Trio, this piece had a very distinct story to tell and way in which it wants you to feel.

NZTrio is chamber music at its best.  You really have to be there in order to truly experience how incredibly skilled and talented this group are.  The chemistry between them is palpable; you can tell they’ve been playing together for a long time in the intuitive way they play off each other when they perform.  It really is a truly remarkable sight to behold.

So do your ears a favour, go see this trio work their magic.  You will come out of it feeling astounded, emotionally moved and just bloody impressed!  Do not be intimidated by the fact that it is chamber music; you do not have to be a classical music enthusiast to enjoy this concert – their music is unpretentious and highly accessible.  NZTrio perform their final concert of this series in October.

Read the full review here.

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