Musical mastery on display at Adam Chamber Music Festival opening

Rolf Gjelsten plays a cello at a rehearsal session for the Adam Chamber Music Festival at Old St John's.
Martin de Ruyter

Rolf Gjelsten plays a cello at a rehearsal session for the Adam Chamber Music Festival at Old St John's.

REVIEW: 

Adam Chamber Music Festival

Grand Opening Concert

Friday February 3, Nelson Cathedral

Reviewed by Paul G Taylor

After two years of waiting the air of expectation in Nelson Cathedral for the opening concert of the 2017 Adam Chamber Music Festival, sponsored by Nelson Pine Industries and dedicated to Verna and Denis Adam, was almost palpable. 

What followed did not disappoint and served to whet the appetite for what lies in store over the next eight days full of chamber music concerts, workshops and talks.

The opening work, Teleman's Concerto for Four Violins in G major, is quintessential early chamber music, demanding exquisite playing to deliver its intricate fabric. The four violins of Helene Pohl, Monique Lapins, Dene Olding and Dimity Hall melded together as if played by a single virtuoso – very satisfying,

In stark harmonic contrast the NZ Premiere performance of Ephemera for string quartet and clarinet written by Gao Ping and played by the New Zealand String Quartet, with James Campbell on clarinet, gave promise to the wide variety of musical experience which is a hallmark of this Festival. Campbell likened this seemingly chaotic but curiously cohesive music to the fleeting burst of light which signals the death of fireflies in his native Canada.

The cello of Matthew Barley then took to the stage for the seldom heard Solo Cello Sonata by Benjamin Britten. This amazingly complex eight-part work demands the ultimate mastery of the cello and Barley, playing entirely from memory, delivered a perfect rendition of this intriguing work.

The concert concluded with the sublime Dvorak String Sextet in which Olding and Lapins were joined by violists Gillian Ansell and Irina Morozova, and cellists Julian Smiles and Rolf Gjelsten. These six musicians reveled in the Slavonic idioms of the music, enrapturing the audience whose enjoyment of the music was clearly evident in the applause which followed.

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Nelson is in for a great musical feast.

 - Stuff

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