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Monday, October 3
Reviewed by Marian Poole
Superlative playing of a superlative programme was awarded full-bodied applause and loud in-unison stamping from a highly appreciative audience. It was a real pleasure to hear such a high level of contemporary local talent showcased with such pride and enjoyment.
The staging was also exemplary. The performers were raised above stage height on benches with a visual display projected behind them. These images of local landscapes complemented the music and never became a distraction.
All the works sat well with each other. Trevor Coleman's Doubtful Sound uses the brightness of trumpet and saxophone to dramatically offset the sonority of the cellos and expose the sense of awe the sound invokes.
Gareth Farr's Ascent was exquisitely serene and delicate. It drew sighs of appreciation from the audience.
Bohemian David Popper's disarmingly sweet Suite for Two Cellos and his technically very demanding Requiem provided a taste of the 19th century. Italian Giovanni Sollima's Violoncelles introduced a rock idiom that won gleeful laughter from the audience.
Anthony Ritchie's Memories of Purakaunui for five cellos and piano successfully conjured the still-water peacefulness of this much-loved bay while injecting happy holiday frolicking and some images of its turbulent history. This conflict is central to much of Ritchie's thinking about our time and place.
Corwin Newall's Turangawaewae: a Place to Stand for cellos and piano took a more joyfully proud approach to our stamping ground and ended the programme on a celebratory note.
Producer and cellist Heleen Du Plessis with cellists Andrew Joyce, Ken Ichinose and Ashley Brown and backed by Cellists of Otago Peter Lee, David Murray, Elaine Wilson and Sean Stenhouse and accompanist Terence Dennis created a highly memorable and brilliant showcase of local talent.