REVIEW: Anderson & Roe, an outstanding evening's entertainment

Tuesday, 27 March 2018
Anderson & Roe Piano Duo review

Chamber Music New Zealand has surpassed itself in engaging the Anderson and Roe Piano Duo to tour the country this month.

I am struggling for superlatives to describe what was an outstanding evening's entertainment, a smorgasbord of dazzling pianistic virtuosity, musicianship and stagecraft, all bundled up in an irresistible package by two dynamic young performers.

Not only was the playing amazing, but so were Anderson and Roe's complex arrangements – it was clear that on every musical level they connected, living and breathing the music together and relishing every second on stage.

Partially celebrating Leonard Bernstein's centenary, the two halves dealt with the themes of transcendence in the first-half and the theatrical portrayal of love and death in the second. Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue and Riffs set the bar high, with typical angular jazz figures and punchy cross-rhythms accentuated to the max. This signalled what was ahead in the West Side Story Suite which also captured the particular tenderness of that score. In fact, all their arrangements retained the true spirit, flavour and integrity of the originals, adding an impressive creative flair.

The only non-arranged work was John Adams' Hallelujah Junction, a pulsating hypnotic gem of the minimalist school that posed significant challenges with the many rests that broke up the lines. The cohesion the duo showed was pinpoint accurate all the way. By contrast, the singalong at the start of Let It Be soon developed into a strong driving gospel duet, the two players competing for supremacy, which they upsized in the Carmen Fantasy later on – exciting stuff!

Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah Variations would have to be one of the best renditions of this song after the original, deeply moving and with the most serene ending. The Gluck provided a moment of repose before the onslaught of the Carmen Fantasy finale, a dazzling finish to a most memorable concert and if you think I've gone a bit over the top, all I'll say is that a capacity crowd gave them a standing ovation at the end of each half and demanded two encores – need I say more?

Review by Patrick Shepherd, published in the Christchurch Press. Read the original article here.