NZTrio: A spellbound audience

Thursday, 9 May 2013

By Brenda Harwood, The Star (Dunedin)

The newly refurbished Glenroy Auditorium provided the perfect backdrop for the brilliance of touring piano trio NZTrio last Friday night.

Touring with Chamber Music New Zealand, NZTrio presented an "Old World: New World" programme, contrasting the brightness and eclectic feel of a series of modern works with the rich, emotional melodies of Tchaikovsky's Trio in A Minor. The relaxed style and virtuosity of NZTrio's players, Justine Cormack (violin), Sarah Watkins (piano), and Ashley Brown (cello), kept the audience spellbound.

Launching the modern, first half of the programme was Bright Sheng's evocative Four Movements for Piano Trio, which transported the audience to the East. Melding the concepts of Oriental classical and folk music with Western classical music, the work was joyful, energetic and captivating in NZTrio's expert hands.

Playful experimentation was to the fore in the delightful Subtle Dances by young New Zealand composer Claire Cowan. Coaxing extraordinary sounds from their instruments, NZTrio swung easily into the piece's complex, jazzy rhythm, to the audience's delight.

The final modern work, by Anierican composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello, explored the contrast between the piano and the violin and cello, creating a kind of dialogue.

By contrast, the concert's second half featured the lush, epic Trio in A Minor by chaikovsky - a complex work requiring virtuosic performances. Not only was NZTrio's performance technically brilliant, it also gave the work the impassioned, emotional interpretation it deserved.