Post-graduate String Students of the New Zealand School of Music
Music by Mozart, Beethoven and Bach
Blythe Press, Jun He, Arna Morton (violins), Xialing Zheng (cello), Matt Oswin (piano), Nicole Ting (piano),
St Andrew’s on The Terrace
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
Yet more impressive playing from students. First up was Blythe Press, who has been playing with the NZSO as a contract player. He played the allegro from Mozart’s Violin Concerto in D, K.218, from memory. This glorious music was played perhaps a little too judiciously – the odd rubato, apart from that before the cadenza, might have been good.
However, the full, bright sound and fast tempo (compared with some recorded performances), added to the obvious skill of the player, made for a great performance. The long cadenza was very demanding, but quite lovely. Matt Oswin accompanied on the piano with skill and empathy.
Another violinist and another Mozart work. Jun He played the composer’s Sonata in B flat, K. 454. She spoke to the audience about the work and something about the style of bow, but I could not hear most of what was said. It was a pity that the available microphone was not used. It was good to hear Mozart’s balance between piano and violin, compared with the rather disconcerting piano (no pun intended) substituting for the orchestra in the previous item – unavoidable, of course.
Jun He was also accompanied by Matt Oswin. Together, they made a fine job of the largo-allegro first movement of the sonata. It was interesting to hear the different timbre and tone Jun He produced from her instrument compared with those of Blythe Press. It was not a matter of superior or inferior – just less bright and full in her case.
The Cello Sonata in A, Op.69 of Beethoven was performed by Xialing Zheng, accompanied by Nicole Ting on the piano. They got the portentous feeling of the opening of the allegro ma non troppo movement just right. The playing was strong, and both instrumentalists produced fine tone. The pianist played very well, with a great range of expression. But numerous lapses of intonation on the part of the cellist were unfortunate; for this reason, her performance did not ‘take off’ for me.
Finally came Arna Morton, who is leader of the Wellington Youth Orchestra, to play the Adagio in G minor, BWV 1001 of J.S. Bach. This unaccompanied piece was given a very fine performance, and was followed by Mozart: allegro aperto (the latter word means ‘free’) from his Violin Concerto in A, K.219, with Matt Oswin. Arna used the music score for this performance, but, aside from a few unwanted squeaks, on the whole made a splendid performance of the work, with a variety of tone and dynamics.
Arna proved to be another strong player, and gave a fast realisation of Mozart’s superb music. She played a shorter cadenza than did Blythe Press, but it was absolutely delicious. It involved a good deal of double-stopping, and a magical passage where the opening melody of the movement was played on harmonics. A beautiful tone was maintained throughout. This musician was the only one to look as if she was enjoying herself.
It was a pity to have biographies in the printed programme for only two of the performers; it would have been interesting to read a little about the others.
Once again, we had the treat of hearing talented young musicians who have benefited from excellent teaching and training.