Mozart the wonderful vehicle for supporting an important charity from Karori Classics

Karori Classics: Purely Mozart
Anna van der Zee and Emma Brewerton (violins), Christian van der Zee and Lyndsay Mountfort (violas), Alegria Solana Ramos (cello), Ignacio de Nicolas Gaya (flute)

Mozart: Flute Quartet in C, K 285b
Mozart: Quintet in G minor, K 526

St Mary’s Church, 176 Karori Road

Friday 31 May, 7 pm

This third concert in the 2019 series, Karori Classics was a benefit concert for Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand, for it’s a wretched condition that afflicts the child of two of the players, Emma Brewerton and Lyndsay Mountfort.

We were sorry to have missed the earlier two concerts; the first, on 1 March, by duet pianists Beth Chen and Nicole Chao, known as Duo Enharmonics; and the second on 22 March for an interesting mixture of pieces involving the flutes of Kirsten Eade and new NZSO flutist/piccolo player Ignacio de Nicolas Gaya in music by Reger, Karg-Elert, a Haydn quartet played by Baroque music group the Orion Quartet (and a composer referred to in the website as J W Bach – presumably a misprint for another Bach).

This, obviously, was a more orthodox programme, which naturally raises more serious expectations. Though there was also an extra-musical interest in that all six players formed three pairs, maritally or romantically speaking. Flutist Ignacio de Nicolas Gaya was here joined by his partner Alegria Solana Ramos, cellist, together with core players named above.

Mozart’s Flute quartet K 285b
They played the third of Mozart’s four flute quartets (the first three are curiously numbered K 285, K 285a and K 285b and the fourth is K 298 in the Köchel catalogue).

Even though the character of players and their instruments didn’t create an especially uniform sound, especially between violin and cello, such niceties are not very significant in a group containing a non-stringed instrument. It was a charming performance, with its sanguine and lyrical first movement, Allegro. The second is a theme and variations, a form that can be dull and predictable in the hands of an ordinary composer, but even though Mozart is on record as disliking the flute, he wrote a totally diverting movement here, with the penultimate variation a secretive, reclusive affair and a deliciously enlivened final variation, which they played with affection and conspicuous pleasure.

The string quintet K 516 is the fourth of the six that he wrote; the first was an early work, and the second, in C minor K 406, was a transcription of his wind serenade K 388. That leaves four great, mature works, and K 516 was alone among them in a minor key. Many a Mozart devotee regards it a one of his greatest works, and I sensed that even without being told that secret, the audience listened with rapt attention as its sombre, reflective spirit unfolded; that was particularly striking through the near quarter hour of the first movement (not a moment too long and the longest movement in any of the quintets). Even though, as with the flute quartet, the tonal ensemble between the instruments was not the main feature of their playing, and the warm beauty of Alegria Solana Ramos’s cello constantly caught the ear, the five players displayed a unanimity of affection and even a degree of awe that made it a singular, lovely experience.

These early evening Friday recitals are very much worth watching out for.