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Dunedin Town Hall
Wednesday, July 20
The Saguaro Trio started playing together when they were students at the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles, drawn together by a shared passion for chamber music.
Only two years after its formation, the trio, John Chen piano, Luanne Homzy violin, and Peter Myers cello, won first place at the Hamburg competitions, the win affording them many concert opportunities in Germany which led to a decision to move to that country this year.
The trio performed in the Dunedin Town Hall on Wednesday, treating a large, enthusiastic audience to an evening of the most wonderful music.
The first number, by Alwyn Westbrooke, was commissioned by the Chamber Music of New Zealand. Entitled "?", or: Why Gryphons Shouldn't Dance, it derives its central material from a small number of simple Latin dance rhythms. However, they are so heavily modified as to be virtually unrecognisable.
The work begins with an extended duet between the violin and cello, then enters the piano. Over the course of the work, the piano grows in confidence, eventually drowning out the strings and usurping them in a full-blown cadence. It was a most exciting and exhilarating work.
Maurice Ravel's Piano Trio in A Minor was beautifully played, from the Basque-like folk dance in the opening movement, through the pantoum movement of exotic Malayan rhythms, to the Passacaille movement, which is based on Baroque passacaglia, where the melody is treated to continuous variation. The final followed without pause - a real "tour de force" which made for a dazzling conclusion. This piece was masterly.
The last item was Franz Schubert's Piano Trio No. 2 in E Flat. This work managed to achieve balance between the instruments, never allowing the piano part to dominate. It was pure delight, with the andante con moto out of this world.
The Saguaro Trio shows great respect for the composers' intention and tends to gravitate towards simplicity, beauty and lyricism.