The Classics: March 6th

Flourishes. NZ Trio.  Justine Cormack (violin), Ashley Brown (cello), Sarah Watkins (piano).  Rattle CD

It is instructive to return to this 2010 finalist for "classical album of the year" in New Zealand (still available from Rattle.) Six years ago it was two major works (Mozart’s trio K502 and Ravel’s Piano Trio) and a gamelan-influenced piece by Wayan Yudane Entering the Stream, with imitative bird calls that impressed. The NZ Trio is always worth hearing again and I focused particularly this time on the other work with a watery theme: At Water’s Birth, by Eve de Castro-Robinson (commissioned by the trio with support from Creative New Zealand. ) The composer has explained how the inclusion of words from a Denys Trussell poem, whistling and other effects pervade the work to provide a sound picture of a stream with all its depths, currents and undercurrents.

There is also a clever Arvo Part ‘‘reconstruction’’ of Mozart in this album. But I return to de Castro-Robinson; she has twice won the Philip Neill Memorial Prize for composition from the University of Otago and has composed a big range of music from large orchestral to vocal, chamber and electro-acoustic works, performed internationally as well as in New Zealand.

Interested in both art and music, I would be keen to see and hear Eve’s chamber opera Len Lye the opera. It was a 90-minute multimedia work, with libretto by Roger Horrocks,  that ran a sold-out season in Auckland in September 2012. Ten years in the making, it was described as an "arresting piece of musical theatre" by William Dart in The New Zealand Herald and "stimulating work that deserves to have a life after this short season". No recording is available. Perhaps some group should stage it at an arts festival in the future?

Verdict: Musical opportunity?

- Geoff Adams

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