NZTrio has head in the clouds

RICHARD BETTS previews NZTrio’s daring 2021 season and talks up their Auckland performance this weekend.

NZTrio launches their 2021 season this weekend. Photo: Garth Badger

NZTrio begins its 2021 season in earnest this Sunday 18 April at the Auckland Town Hall concert chamber.

Titled ‘Stratus’ and featuring works by Rachmaninov, Haydn and Suk, as well as notable New Zealanders Claire Cowan and Reuben de Lautour, the concert is the first in the group’s Dramatic Skies series. The second and third concerts are ‘Cumulus’ and ‘Cirrus’.

According to the trio, “Each concert presents works from overseas and, like the clouds in the title, some are bright and billowy – familiar shapes passing by – while others are dark, brooding and portentous.”

Impressively, every gig features two Kiwi works, one of which will be a new commission. That means we get new music from the aforementioned Latour, and a pair by two of our most feted composers, Jenny McLeod and Gillian Whitehead.

As well as contributing to the repertoire and supporting new music in New Zealand, Dramatic Skies continues NZTrio’s enviable tradition of daring programming. Within each concert, established greats rub shoulders with fresh and rarely heard music. Not only does each show represent a cohesive whole, there’s an arc across the three-concert series too. It’s clever stuff.


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Sadly for Aucklanders, the trio’s June tour for Chamber Music New Zealand, Quartet For The End of Time, won’t make it to the city. The concerts feature Messiaen’s chamber work of the title, written and first performed while the composer was held in a German prisoner of war camp. Clarinettist Jonathan Cohen joins the group for the nine-city tour, which also boasts music from Beethoven and Ross Harris.


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