Exciting opening to 12th Adam festival

Last updated 12:00 02/02/2013

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REVIEW: Adam Chamber Music Festival: Grand Opening Concert. At Christ Church Cathedral, February 1. Reviewed By Michael Monti. --------------------

What a stunning concert. The artistic directors, Helen Pohl and Gillian Ansell of the New Zealand String Quartet, have gathered a wonderful mix of repertoire, local and international performers and forged a truly exciting programme.

If last night is any indication we're in for an amazing week. The programme involved members of the Penderecki Quartet from Canada, the New Zealand String Quartet, principals of the NZSO and an Australian horn player.

The evening started with a karakia declaimed by Cindy Batt and accompanied by Richard Nunns on a taonga puoro, followed by an official opening of the festival by Arts Minister Christopher Finlayson.

Mozart wrote his Horn Quintet in E flat for a great Salzburg player, and he challenged his friend by writing it for both upper and lower register, particularly difficult for the valveless instruments of that time.

Darryl Poulsen was joined by Helen Pohl, violin, Gillian Ansell and Christine Vlajk, violas, and Katie Schlaikjer, cello.

Within the four-movement work the range of each instrument was explored, and the horn and violin were engaged in interplay.

Prokofiev wrote his Quintet in G minor for a disparate "pit band" who commissioned a work for the ballet Trapeze. The quintet comprises Robert Orr, oboe, Philip Green, clarinet, Douglas Beilman, violin, Christine Vlajk, viola, and Hiroshi Ikematsu, double bass. None of last night's musicians had played the work before.

Considered avant-garde when written, the six movements are challenging and 90 years on they require concentration by both players and audience to appreciate the subtle themes and harmonies.

Beethoven's Septet in E flat was written when he was starting to go deaf and in despair. Despite this the work proved to be very popular and subject to other arrangements, both official and otherwise. Last night's group comprised Jerzy Kaplanek, violin, Gillian Ansell, viola, Philip Green, clarinet, Darryl Poulsen, horn, Robert Weeks, bassoon, Katie Schlaikjer, cello, and Hiroshi Ikematsu, double bass.

Violin and clarinet echoed each other, admirably supported by the other strings and wind' which had the effect of two complementary choruses, in well balanced harmony.

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