Intelligent programme of well played chamber music at Lower hutt

Wieniawski: Reverie for viola and piano
Bruch: Nos. 1, 5 (Rumanian Melody), 6 (Nocturne) and 2 from Eight Pieces, Op.83 (originally for clarinet, viola and piano)
Brahms: Sonata for viola and piano, Op.120 no.2, in E flat major
Piazolla: Tango Primavera Portena

Victoria Jaenecke, viola; Martin Jaenecke, violin; Rachel Thomson, piano

St. Mark’s Church, Lower Hutt

Wednesday, 19 October, 12.15pm

A superb concert by professional musicians, with an interesting and varied programme greeted those who attended at St. Mark’s Church.  It was a considerably smaller attendance than that at Upper Hutt the previous lunchtime.

One of the features was the perfect balance between the instruments.  The lid of the piano was fully up, but there was carpet on the floor.  Whether it was the carpet, the skill of the pianist, or a bit of both, the larger instrument never dominated the others, but neither was it too reticent.

Victoria Jaenecke and Rachel Thomson started proceedings with the Reverie.  It began slowly, in the minor key.  This was an attractive piece, exceedingly well played with great sonority.  A lovely middle section led to a return to the sombre tones of the opening.

The players were joined by Martin Jaenecke for the series of Bruch pieces.  Martin’s violin tone is warm and seductive, and matches the viola well.  The second piece had figures of separated chords on the piano, against a low, solemn melody on viola, before moving into a more lilting section for all three instruments.  Here, as elsewhere, the players demonstrated superb ensemble.

The Nocturne, no.6, commenced with viola and piano.  This movement was much more square in form, but tuneful and pleasing, becoming passionate as it progressed, finally subsiding into a dreamy ending.

The final piece played (no.2) began with the piano, then the viola entered.  The music became faster, yet it was still eloquent.

Brahms’s sonata may be more familiar in the version for clarinet, but the viola version was very attractive in these hands.  The sunny opening movement, allegro amabile, featured a complex piano part, ably performed by Rachel Thomson, and a lovely coda.

The second movement, appassionato ma non troppo – allegro, was faster than I have previously heard it, but did not seem to suffer for that.  The solemn middle section transposed the opening theme most effectively.   The finale, andante con moto – allegro non troppo, delivered an imposing opening theme, with chords.  Rapid lilting passages followed.  The allegro seemed somewhat troppo to me, especially for the piano, but this gave a brilliant ending.

Throughout the entire concert I may have heard four or five ‘bum’ notes.  This was music-making of a high order.

The final item was an arrangement of a tango by Piazolla.  Beginning with a violin solo accompanied by pizzicato on the viola, it was lively, with off-beat rhythms and interesting harmonies.  Pizzicato ended the first section, then a more serious melody was introduced on the viola, soon to be joined by the violin.  Harmonic uncertainties and chromaticism led to a sprightly, even jazzy section to conclude.  It evoked the whirling, twirling dancers, and their final gesture and pose.

Apart from the Brahms sonata, the music was unfamiliar to me.  The programme was so intelligently constructed and the items so unfailingly well played, that it maintained the attention and enjoyment throughout.

The audience was informed that next Wednesday’s recital will see eight musicians perform Mendelssohn’s wonderful Octet (although that is not what is advertised in the flyer circulated early in the year); something to look forward to.



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