A perfect evening

Last updated 15:38 11/02/2013

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Kreutzer; Martin Jaenecke, soprano saxophone; Victoria Jaenecke, viola; New Zealand String Quartet; Colin Carr, cello; Richard Apperley, organ; Penderecki String Quartet, Adam Chamber Music Festival, Nelson Cathedral, Friday 8th February, reviewed by Ruth Allison.

This was a perfect Friday evening concert. Two string quartets that happily exchanged viola and cello players and went from four to six players, the sultry tones of a soprano saxophone, the cathedral organ and a deep-throated viola gave us an eclectic programme which went well into the warm summer's night.

The duet for soprano saxophone and viola by Edward Ware was very well received by the audience. Martin and Victoria Jaenecke made light of the sharply conflicting rhythms. They blended effortlessly and understood each other perfectly. Their performance was a pleasure to watch, the apparent chaos seeming to unfold into a magical melting of familiarity as both instruments danced and played with a range of emotions.

Beethoven's Violin Sonata ‘Kreutzer', probably his most well-known sonata and his most demanding was performed by the New Zealand String Quartet and Colin Carr as an arrangement for strings and a cello. It was a standout favourite.

The violinist Kreutzer, after whom it was named, refused to play it, pronouncing it ‘outrageously unintelligible'. But last night's players not only gave a polished performance but their joy on the stage was evident and infectious, Helene Pohl once again demonstrating her mastery of the violin and her leadership.

The NZSQ and Christine Vlajk from the Penderecki Quartet took it in turns to be the voice of the violin and the piano and maintained a cracking pace, handling the difficult score with ease.

The sensuous tones of the soprano saxophone were once again heard in two short pieces. The Lied ohne Worte by Sofia Gubaidulina which makes effective use of the unusual combination of saxophone and organ was an unexpected delight. Martin Jaenecke's own composition Meditation allowed us to reflect on the value human transcendence and mystical spiritualism. This was beautiful playing, long drawn out notes executed with apparent ease and reminiscent of the smoky bars of a jazz nightclub. I would have liked to have heard more of him.

The evening finished on another highlight Brahms' String Sextet No.1 in B-flat major, Op 18. This time the Penderecki String Quartet was joined by Gillian Ansell, viola and Rolf Gjelsten, cello to make up the required two violins, two violas and two cellos. This emotionally tumultuous piece is full of joie de vivre and the musicians captured every last shred of emotion with their expressive and strong, refined playing.

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This is my last review and I would like to say how much I appreciate the opportunity to attend many of the concerts the Adam Chamber Music Festival have provided over the last nine days. Knowing you have to write a review makes it an even richer experience.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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