Marian Poole, Piano Teacher and Music Critic.

The Kungsbacka Piano Trio at the Glenroy Auditorium, 2 September 2007

Nearly filling the Glenroy Auditorium, this afternoon's audience gave the Kungsbacka Trio thundering applause for their sustained and artless virtuosity in a programme of substantial works. Named after the Swedish village in which they gave their first performance, this group has won acclaim in Britain, Melbourne and Europe.

Their programme for Dunedin opened with the Beethoven "Archduke" Trio, after Beethoven's patron, which gave the audience a first taste of the trio's effortless, sublime and tight ensemble work. The work is known for its remote but smoothly contrived key changes in the "Allegro Moderato", the dance like interchange of theme on the "Scherzo". The "Andante Cantabile" was beautifully witty with an excellent transition into the final movement, "Allegro Moderato" a full bodied and virtuosic finale.

Gareth Farr's "Ahi" took the middle position in the programme traditionally reserved for a work which promises to challenge the senses and perhaps the intellect. "Ahi" meaning "fire" - a strange title with little obvious allusion to the music - opens with a disarmingly sweet one-phrased melody. Imminently cantabile and instantly discernible, it threads its way through the third movement "Interlude" all the while undergoing the pull of gravity as it intensifies, darkens and grows to a grand restatement in the "Finale". "Interlude" is a charming excursion through the tonal language of Balinese Gamelan, bells, and Indian-like inflections. The second movement, "Scherzo", however, seems appropriately enough, to come from somewhere else. Its drum-like repeated chords in the piano and strident strings are reminiscent of perhaps Shostakovich and Reich on a bad day, yet manage to sound sufficiently original.

The programme ended with Brahms Opus 87 No 2 in C, which was here played exceptionally well. While the themes seem to be carried through the entire work, the ear never grows tired as they dissemble. Who could advance on the string of adjectives which Clara Schumann reportedly uttered on first seeing the score? The work is indeed splendid, wonderful, beautiful, delightful, charming, and, like the Kungsbacka Piano Trio, refreshingly devoid of artifice.