Kathryn Stott, piano and New Zealand String Quartet, Chamber Music New Zealand, Old St John's Church, Sunday May 7
Ruth Allison / Nelson Mail
I shall be glad when the Nelson School of Music is finally completed. I miss the fine acoustics and the comfortable seating arrangement. Old St John's Church has served its time as a temporary venue but it is a noisy, echoing cavern with poor lighting and inadequate heating.
Last night's audience however were treated to such a splendid musical evening that these setbacks became minor irritations (along with the inevitable members for whom coughing is de rigueur).
The New Zealand String Quartet have found new energy and unison with the addition of violinist Monique Lapins. Combine this with the strength of founding member Gillian Ansell, the charm of Rolf Gjelsten and Helene Pohl and the power of pianist Kathryn Stott and it becomes a tour de force.
The premier of Gillian Whitehead's still echoing for piano and strings opened the concert. Using the words of the poem On Te Whanga Lagoon in the Chatham Islands by Gregory O'Brien, the composition evoked images of birds, sea, wind and silence through the range of sounds from expressive viola solos to the gentle stroking of the piano strings. A sensitive and thoughtful interpretation.
A piano sonata by French composer Dutilleux allowed Kathryn Stott to demonstrate her virtuosic playing skills. Stott has gone beyond technical brilliance into a realm where the body and the instrument appear to be one. This was a meticulous performance at once sensuous, controlled and mesmerising, full of colour and light, charged with emotion.
Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A Major played at a cracking pace full of exuberance; a deep camaraderie articulated as melody and rhythms passed between players. The NZSQ is a treasure, a taonga. Cherish them.