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Stephen de Pledge & Amalia Hall
REVIEWED BY MARIAN POOLE
Chamber Music New Zealand gave its first concert since New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown.
Before the musicians came on stage it was already a momentous occasion. New Zealand’s ability to stage live events is a privilege hard won and much envied.
The fact that we have New Zealand musicians of world-class virtuosity to fill the gap left by overseas touring groups is testament to our cultural strengths. Let us not forget our music culture is so strong, and let’s not allow the knowledge of our home-grown prestige to slip away.
The excellent programme performed by pianist Stephen de Pledge and violinist Amalia Hall was nothing short of spectacular.
Beethoven’s Violin Sonata no 8 in F major “Spring” was an inspiring work to open the concert. This beautiful performance highlighted the work’s delicate lyricism, its sprightly and occasional playful bluster evoking the simple joy of rebirth.
Gao Ping’s Bitter Cold Night was given its live premiere on tour. Its haunting sonorities are broken mid-line just as deep despair renders us silent. It gathers lyric momentum only to be interrupted by unresolved and angry discords. Bitter Cold Night is a powerful statement of a universal grief and helplessness.
Gershwin’s infectiously rhythmic Three Preludes - an antidote to grief - was performed with unleashed brilliance. Lower register piano chords were stomped out with glee. The violin slides were drawn out exquisitely. Brilliant!
Mozart’s Violin Sonata No 19 provided an interlude of serenity and sweet nothings, quickly followed by the show buster.
De Pledge and Hall brought tremendous vibrancy to Saint-Saens’ Violin Sonata Op75. This texturally dense work is replete with opportunities for the musicians to exhibit their virtuosity, which they did in spades. The final movement, Allegro molto, received a forceful and spectacularly prestissimo performance to the audience’s stunned amazement.
Thunderous applause and shouts of pure glee were rewarded with an encore - Chopin’s Nocturne.