2015 – Day Four: Lilburn and the emotional moment

And now to share their 2015 Adam Chamber Music Festival experience, we welcome back a familiar (and yet mysteriously anonymous!) blogger who is a good friend of the Ten Days of Chamber Music blog series…

Korimako (the bellbirds whom our blogger/s are named)

Korimako (the bellbirds whom our blogger is named after)

Korimako has been active in the Nelson music scene for more than thirty years, both in administration and active music making. Before coming to Nelson this split personality was involved in a variety of music performance ranging from choral singing to brass bands.

For the first time during the 2013 Adam Festival, Chamber Music NZ set up a blog, and Korimako was the principal contributor – sending 14 blogs with an astounding total of nearly 6000 words, plus countless photos.

In 2015 Korimako still remains anonymous, and is very happy more people are blogging.


Sunday 1 Feb – from Korimako (written 2 Feb)

Day four of the Festival and Korimako flitted into St John’s Church for a 1pm recital which began with English pianist Kathryn Stott playing New Zealand works.  Stott is a musician of great versatility who’s highly regarded internationally – she’s a star.

First up was John Psathas‘ Waiting for the Aeroplane.  He writes that the work represents the distances he travels between his birthplace Greece, and New Zealand.  It starts with a gentle melody accompanied by pulsing left hand rhythm.  More action follows, and eventually we hear frenetic music using the keyboard’s full range.

(Video: John Psathas’ Waiting for the Aeroplane, here performed by Dan Poynton)


Gao Ping wrote Dance Fury in homage to Astor Piazzolla, and this lively, virtuosic work is filled with Argentinian tango rhythms.

The major composition this afternoon was Antonin Dvořák‘s Piano Quartet No 2 In E♭, Op 27 played by Kathryn Stott, Donald Armstrong, Gillian Ansell and David Ying.

It’s obvious from beginning that Dvořák loved the cello (think the fabulous Cello Concerto), and that he loved playing the viola.  Both instruments have wonderfully moving melodies during the work, and the finale is positively rollicking. This quartet is one of the best known of all chamber compositions, and today’s audience was captivated by the virtuoso performance, responding with a standing acclamation.

The evening concert started with two beautiful Songs for alto, viola and piano, Op 91 written by Brahms for his closest friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim.  The second was a lullaby for Joachim’s infant son, named Johannes in honour of Brahms.  The performance by Song Company mezzo Hannah Fraser, Gillian Ansell and Kathryn Stott was perfect.

Next came Beethoven‘s Trio in C minor, Op 1 No 3 played by Kathryn Stott, Helene Pohl and David Ying. This youthful trio must have seemed very avant-garde in 1793 with its big dynamic contrasts and unconventional harmonies. The trio played with energy and enthusiasm, showing obvious enjoyment in the work.

American pianist/composer John Novacek focuses particularly on the ragtime tradition, and tonight’s performers, the Ying Quartet, commissioned these Three Rags in 2010.  Phillip Ying introduced them pointing out that there was ‘nothing long or solemn’ in this music, especially the last one, Intoxication, which reflects a drunkard’s wobblings.

The Ying Quartet played with dynamic entertaining vigour and the audience loved every minute of it.

Starting the second half in half-light with Douglas Lilburn‘s electronic tape Inscapes II (1972), leading straight into Dmitri Shostakovich‘s Piano Quintet in G minor (1940) was an inspired piece of programming.

Douglas Lilburn

Douglas Lilburn

This was an ideal way to mark the centenary of Lilburn’s birth by showcasing a small part of his electro-acoustic work.  (This was an emotional moment for Korimako who had many professional music contacts with Lilburn during the 1970s.)

Shostakovich’s quintet is one of the great works of the 20th century.  The Prelude opens with a dramatic cello theme, leading into the contemplative Fugue.  The dramatic, quirky Scherzo is followed by a poignant Intermezzo which leads into the triumphant finale.  And so ended another stunning concert!


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