REVIEW: Requiem: Colin Carr, cello; Rolf Gjelsten, cello; Katie Schlaikjer, cello; Emma Sayers, Piano; Gillian Ansell, viola; Peter Nagy, piano, Adam Chamber Music Festival, Nelson School of Music, February 4.
It is a privilege for this reviewer to be given the opportunity to revel in the feast of music that is currently on offer from the Adam Chamber Music Festival.
I like the short concert held in the mornings or afternoons of a long weekend. One hour allows me to listen intently and absorb all that I can. Requiem was no exception. David Popper's Requiem arranged for three cellos and a piano was followed by a requiem of sorts in Shostakovich's exquisite Viola Sonata Op.147. Nearly 100 years apart but both tugging at the heartstrings, these are rich, sensuous works. They were beautifully executed by skilled musicians.
"If we can play it well', said Gillian Ansell of Shostakovich, 'it will be a heartbreaking experience'. And so it was. The audience responded with a silence of held breaths before bursting into thunderous applause. If I sound overblown and overwhelmed it is because I was. This last composition of Shostakovich was a confrontation of death.
The three movements revealed differing emotions ranging from wistfulness and regret to anger and rage and finally to acceptance and resignation. Gillian's sensitive playing showed her complete understanding of this piece.
I have never been so moved by the viola, from the opening gentle pizzicato to its sweeping solo and final almost imperceptible dying away almost as if unwilling to let go. In her hands the instrument spoke as if a person. And that person was the Russian composer Shostakovich who had survived the Great Terror of 1936 and the humiliation of public denunciation by the Soviet powers.
It is not often that three 'cellists are in the same place at the same time. When they are it is an opportunity to play David Popper's Requiem. Colin Carr is a soloist, Rolf Gjelsten is the cellist in the New Zealand String Quartet and Kati Schlaikjer accompanies the Penderecki Quartet.
Colin Carr's playing is rich and expressive. Rolf Gjelsten is a master of his craft and Katie Schlaikjer made the most of her deep toned instrument. This is an unashamedly romantic piece, utterly beautiful and moving which highlights the sonorous tones of the cello. Sensitively accompanied by Emma Sayers on the piano, the cellists gave a sympathetic and accomplished performance. I, like Michael Monti, feel very lucky.
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