Marian Poole, Piano Teacher and Music Critic.

Review of a Pedro Carneiro performance

Pedro Carneiro with the New Zealand String Quartet at the Glenroy Auditorium, 13 August 2007

An exciting program of beautiful recent works were presented by the New Zealand String Quartet with solo percussionist Pedro Carneiro on the Marimba, to a very appreciative but small audience at the Glenroy Auditorium on Monday night. While no one work exceeded any others' excellence, the Beethoven (Op 131 in C) stood alone for its demands on virtuosic stamina. Had the program been dedicated to current works rather than deferring to traditional programming guidelines, Beethoven might have been in company more to his liking. Tan Dun's "8 Colours for String Quartet" mixes traditional quartet idioms with wonderful sliding double stops and strummed strings but its reliance on a precious single note and serialist structures left the audience cold.

John Psathas' "Kartsigar" is a wonderful work from a deservedly famous New Zealand composer. The heartbeat pizzicato figure which opens the first movement, "Unbridled", retains coherency throughout while caressing dissonances and melodies glide around it in serene understatement. Psathas' second work, "One Study, One Summary" commissioned by Carneiro, relies on found sounds, such a cracked cymbal and pot lids, whose dead-pan timbre melds nicely with marimba and electronic tape. The first movement suffers primarily because Carneiro's part merely accompanies the taped sounds and because he was screened from the audience by large music stands. The second movement allowed Carneiro full stage presence with his quick-fire technique. Tuis Tinoco's "Ends Meet" is a minimalist work with exhilarating surges in rhythmic pattern. Egberto Gismonti's "Danca No 2" also has nervous energy with conventional and unconventional playing techniques successfully interwoven. Chen Yi's "Sound of the Five" uses Chinese and European textures in chromatic harmonics. The evening closed with Eurico Carrapatoso's "suite d'aquem e d'alem mar II", a most beautiful amalgam of classical and modern textures and melodies which ends with a delightful sea shanty.

The combined sound of strings and marimba worked well in an thoroughly enjoyable evening dedicated to invigorating, beautiful and succinct modern works performed by consummate artists.