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Arts Festival Review: New Zealand String Quartet

New Zealand String Quartet

Reviewed by Stephen M Thompson

New Zealand String Quartet (with Budi Putra and Michael Houston)
26 Feb (also 10 March with different programme)
7pm
St Mary of the Angels


We heard five works by the following composers (with the date of the premiere in brackets ): Jack Body (1996), Ross Harris (2005), Gareth Farr (1993), Tan Dun (1988) and Lyell Cresswell (2000).

In Body’s “Campur Sari”, there was a gamelan part contributed by Budi Putra: first metalophone, then his strong voice and finally a drum, with the strings providing a light accompaniment. In Harris’ “Quartet No III” the viola and cello held a tune, with the violins providing a light accompaniment, until near the end when the tune was broken up into jagged bits. Then again in Farr’s “Owhiro” the lower strings dominated until a last part when the violins sang for the first time in the concert; at least that is how this reviewer heard it. In Tan Dun’s “Eight Colors”, there were short silences between each color when the audience could savour the melted together sounds they had just heard. Cresswell’s “And Every Sparkle Shivering” with Michael Houston piano, was the longest piece taking 24 minutes, and the five performers were all equally significant, creating a complicated and fascinating finale.

The audience filled the church for this brilliant concert of contemporary music. The best piece seemed to me to be the last, but whichever had been last would probably have seemed to be the best, as I warmed to this kind of music. The New Zealand String Quartet will give another concert at 7pm on 10 March at the same venue.

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NZ Arts Festival: New Zealand String Quartet One
NZ Arts Festival: New Zealand String Quartet Two
Scoop Full Coverage: Festival 2006

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