Marian Poole, Piano Teacher and Music Critic.

NZ Trio at the Glenroy Auditorium

Energetic, intelligent, lyrical and much-more-than-tonal new works performed by NZTrio were applauded enthusiastically by a full house at the Glenroy Auditorium this Tuesday.

The pensive elongated jazz chords of New Zealand composer Judy Bailey's "So Many Rivers" are followed by solo cello and violin themes and are developed through classical form. With faster convolutions and chunky chords Bailey paints a convincing drama before returning briefly to the opening piano lines.

The second commissioned work comes from Australian composer Stuart Greenbaum. "A Year Without Summer" describes an eruption in Indonesia 200 years ago which devastated land and people. A scene of panic, of either dashing figures or falling fiery rock, rhythmically disjointed yet focused is interrupted by the cataclysmic event - here a rasp of nail on lower piano strings left to resound till a cello solo sounds a lament. The work is less than foreboding, but beautifully lyric; it themes folk-like and highly memorable. Jennifer Higdon's "Pale Yellow: Fiery Red" begs the question of whether music can relay colour. Yes, when the premise prejudices the listening, but not everyone sees colours in the same light. Rather mellow than yellow, a canvas of gold and ochre, orange and sunshine, oscillating in true classical style between dark and light. "Fiery Red" allowed less room for interpretation, becoming only momentarily subdued. Both demanded a high degree of technical skill and much stamina from the performers.

Turina's Opus 35 gave a hint of where these first composers might have taken their lead. Here there were the stretched harmonies, the hint of jazz, cabaret and a Spanish idiom well-tempered for the concert hall; not a serial row within hearing, and quite sweetly grand.

Schumann's trio paints a poem with music, but not to the same end as the first four composers. This poem says not a lot very nicely. Played at a less than sedate pace it fitted surprisingly well into the programme.

NZTrio are commended not only for their deconstructed gothic outfits but for their clever and demanding programming of exciting works excellently interpreted.