Martin Riseley (violin) Rupa Maitrea (violin) Margaret Guldborg (cello) Sophia Acheson (viola) Donald Maurice (viola d’amore)
Vivaldi - Concerto for viola d’amore in D major, RV392 Telemann - Concerto for two violas d’amore Graupner - Concerto for viola d’amore in D major Bach - Concerto for violin in E major Graupner - Concerto for viola d’amore and viola in A major Telemann - Concerto for viola in G major Bach - Erbarme Dich, St Matthew Passion-violin, viola & strings Programme Tickets
Strings Amore brings together five of New Zealand's finest performers in a programme featuring four exceptional baroque composers.
The ensemble showcases the viola d'amore, an exquisitely beautiful instrument from the baroque era, and two of the most popular concertos for violin and viola.
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Doris & Mark
Christopher's Classics - 28 July 2022: Levansa Trio
Andrew Beer – Violin; Lev Sivkov – Cello; Sarah Watkins – Piano
Reviewed by Tony Ryan
I remember, in my teens, the beginnings of my voyage of discovery of classical music – the appearance on radio (often a commercial station) of a piece that knocked me sideways, a recording played by a teacher while he sat marking more important subjects than music, a school visit to a recital by a visiting pianist or chamber group, and so on. Random selections of LPs from the thread-bare record bins in Timaru department stores also resulted in first encounters with many wonders.
Gradually the frequency of new discoveries diminished until those special encounters have now become rare. But last night’s inspiring performance of Georgy Sviridov’s Piano Trio in A Minor (1946/1955) was one such occasion. The three players of the Levansa Trio projected the music’s drama, colour and expression with such open-hearted commitment that it was the perfect introduction to this music. Back home I quickly found a superb recent recording online which I have now added to my collection (it’s playing as I write) but, fine as that recording is, it cannot compare to the experience of last night’s Levansa performance.
A few particularly distinctive moments deserve mention: The exceptionally beautiful final section of the first movement Elegy was simply breathtaking, especially in the way that the musicians on stage found every last drop of its heart-lifting expressiveness. Then the energetic Scherzo began with virtuosic energy leading to a sweeping ending of overwhelming and unstoppable impetus. The following, exquisitely beautiful Funeral March, mixed tragedy with a degree of wistful romanticism and, in the fervently passionate and technically brilliant hands of the Levansa Trio, the final Idyll brought a sense of peace in the face of darkness – acceptance rather than regret.
The Sviridov work ended this concert except for an encore – one of English composer Frank Bridge’s delightful miniatures for Piano Trio – and, while this was played with all the flair and joyousness of the whole programme, I couldn’t help thinking that I would have preferred to leave the hall with Sviridov lingering in my mind’s ear. Encores are rare in Christchurch, as we carefully ration our applause, but the enthusiasm of this concert’s audience demanded an exception.
The programme began with Beethoven’s first published work, the Piano Trio in E flat Major (1795) and, although we heard the same work played by another group in last year’s Christopher’s Classics series, the Levansa Trio’s performance had so much more of the “sunshine, humour and joy” that pianist Sarah Watkins mentioned in her brief welcome at the end of the piece. If I didn’t know that this trio was by Beethoven, I would have sworn it was by Haydn, especially in this vibrant and infectious performance. It certainly showed the influence of Beethoven’s illustrious teacher more than in his more innovative first three piano sonatas written around the same time, or the first string quartets of just a couple of years later.
Bohuslav Martinů’s three-movement Piano Trio No. 2 in D Minor was another less familiar piece and, like Sviridov’s trio, it brought a degree of welcome revelation. I’ll be looking to hear this again soon too, especially for its brilliantly energetic and spectacular final Allegro, played here with such risk-taking abandon and vitality. New Zealand composer Claire Cowan’s 2015 Ultraviolet proved an engaging opening to the second part of the concert. Its rhythmic liveliness and ear-catching harmonic shifts never allowed our attention to wander. The piano’s predominantly minimalistic character is nicely juxtaposed against the more evocative string contributions, although both the violin and cello parts are unable to resist occasional enticements to join the hypnotic rhythms led by the piano. Ultraviolet is a well-crafted and appealing work – a concisely structured piece whose repetitive rhythmic motifs never outstay their welcome.
But now – I can’t resist listening to that extraordinary Sviridov trio just one(?) more time . . .
Please note that due to last minute changes to the NZSO programme, we have had to change the date for this concert. It will now be held at The Piano at 7:30PM Tuesday 27 September. All tickets for the original date are valid for the new date.
On Friday 15 October Tony Ryan was interviewed on RNZ Concert's Upbeat programme. He was reviewing our 2022 season. To hear this interview please click on the button,
Christopher’s Classics 2022 – Series XXVII Reviewer Tony Ryan looks forward to the expanded programme for the 2022 season.
With a few modifications of date, programme and personnel, Christopher’s Classics in 2020 and 2021 have been a life-saver for Christchurch concert-goers. For 2022, an ambitious ten-concert schedule with top-line New Zealand musicians and even more affordable ticket prices comes as a much-needed booster dose of musical excellence after the uncertainties of these last two years.
2022’s CHRISTOPHER MARSHALL CONCERT (which proved to be a highlight of the 2021 series) this time features baritone Will King in a recital of English and French songs accompanied by David Codd. The programme includes Britten’s wonderful Songs and Proverbs of William Blake, which I’m especially looking forward to. Will King has already made a notably favourable impression on those who have heard him recently so, apart from this welcome opportunity of having a singer in the 2022 season, I’m very much looking forward to hearing this rising star in the Christopher’s Classics opening concert in March.
PIANO TRIO ENSEMBLES are quite a thematic thread running through the 2022 series. Three such groups can be heard in April, June and July; four if you count the welcome return of the Morton Trio, also in July, with French horn replacing the cello of the other ensembles. The very wide range of repertoire that these trios are scheduled to play easily justifies their inclusion in this expanded season, and it will make for some fascinating comparisons as the different personalities bring their individual insights to the music-making. All three of the standard ensembles will include works by New Zealand composers: in July the Levansa Trio will play Ultraviolet by Claire Cowan, while both the NZ Chamber Soloists and the NZTrio will première new commissions whose details are yet to be announced. The NZ Chamber Soloists’ programme is a very innovative mix of New Zealand-Chinese-American works along with Shostakovich’s rarely heard First Piano Trio, and I’m rather excited to see that NZTrio’s programme also includes a work by Nikolai Kapustin, who died just last year at the age of 82, and whose music has been receiving increasing attention in recent years. Another interesting feature of these concerts is that NZTrio and Levansa Trio will each include a Beethoven Piano Trio, which just happen to be the same two that the Argyle Trio played in the 2021 series – so this will make another fascinating comparison; it’s always intriguing to hear the diversity of approaches as different musicians bring their own individual vision to the music, especially the great Archduke Trio which is always a favourite.
PIANIST LIAM WOODING, who appears in July with the Morton Trio, returns in September with an enticing solo programme of Mozart, Bach-Busoni, Prokofiev (the quirky and inventive Vision Fugitives) and a Sonata by Australian composer Carl Vine. The inclusion of the occasional solo musician in the Christopher’s Classics series is always a welcome feature.
TWO STRING ENSEMBLES are scheduled for August and September. The Aroha String Quartet have an appealing programme of Mendelssohn, Brahms and John Psathas, along with a real favourite of mine – Shostakovich’s Tenth String Quartet. Strings Amore is the other string group, which comprises five of New Zealand’s finest players in a programme of baroque works by Vivaldi, Graupner, Telemann and Bach. This concert features Donald Maurice on viola d’amore, one of the baroque era’s most exquisitely beautiful and favourite instruments.
TWO DUOS complete the 2022 line-up. In May the Darroch Cowan Duo bring a collection of pieces for flute and guitar by composers from both North and South America, while the 2022 series ends in October with a programme of songs arranged for cello and piano from originals by Schubert, Glazunov, Dvořák, Schumann and Brahms. For this concert Andrew Joyce and Rae de Lisle will no doubt be reprising some of the tracks that we often hear on RNZ Concert from their album Morgen released in 2020, although that disc doesn’t include Glazunov. Personally, such arrangements of well-known vocal gems have the effect of making me wish for the originals with all the textual expression and tension that only the human voice can deliver. However, the cello is far more suitable for such instrumental alternatives than the interminable flute or clarinet arrangements that seem prevalent and, depending what the year throws at us, I may well be ready for some good easy-to-listen-to tunes, so I do look forward to this opportunity to hear two such fine musicians as the icing on the cake in what looks like a series of enormous variety and tantalising repertoire.