Programme | Hōtaka

Keeping the tradition
Guest curator: Elliot Vaughan | CMNZ

Chamber Music New Zealand made its first commission in 1959, a trio for violin, cello and piano from Edwin Carr. CMNZ has commissioned another 87 pieces since, from over 40 New Zealand composers, for performance by top New Zealand groups and international touring ensembles.Moving backward through this catalogue, this playlist comprises four pieces written in relationship to traditional classical forms.

Claire Cowan’s Subtle Dances was co-commissioned with NZTrio for their 2013 tour “Old World : New World”. Driven by the cello, i. subtle dances is a smoky, low-lit flamenco. In ii. elegy muted strings accompany the piano’s jazz-tinged lament. In iii. nerve lines a violin melody wails over churning chords, eventually being caught up in the energetic crescendo.

Gillian Whitehead wrote Quintet for Brisbane-based Southern Cross Soloists and their 2002 New Zealand tour. “[T]his piece explores more ‘classical’ ideas than some of my other recent pieces” writes Whitehead in the foreword, meaning the 6-note theme as well as the traditions addressed by each section. The middle of the piece is an oboe cadenza and what follows is a reversion of what preceded.

Three Rhythmics by Jack Body was originally written for New Zealand pianists Diedre Irons and Michael Houstoun for their 1985 duo tour. In fact the two did not end up playing the piece, and it was premiered on Halloween 1987. The music demands a mechanical virtuosity in its exciting rhythms, executed here by Blas Gonzáles and Ya-Ting Liou

John Elmsley’s Passacaglia was written for Auckland Chamber Music Players’ 1984 tour. The hallmarks of the passacaglia form—a looped descending bass line and a triple meter—are often obscured, though never discarded, and the traditional somber tone is intact in the slower middle section.

Claire Cowan | Subtle Dances
Performed by NZTrio (Justine Cormack – violin, Ashley Brown – cello, Sarah Watkins – piano) at the Musikhuset Aarhus, Denmark

Gillian Whitehead | Quintet
Performed by the Auckland Chamber Orchestra, conductor Peter Scholes

Jack Body | Three Rhythmics
Performed by Blas Gonzalez and Ya-Ting Liou

John Elmsly | Passacaglia
Performed by Peter Scholes (clarinet), Miranda Adams (violin), James Yoo (cello) and Sarah Watkins (piano)

Approximate running time | Te roa: 45 minutes