Salon Series Tour 2014

“Chamber music up  so close you can see us breathe and feel us communicate - the next best thing to being in the group!”

Helene Pohl

August 2014

Whether you’re a long-time chamber music lover or just discovering this beautiful form of music, you’ll love our August/September tour Salon Series 2014.

We’ll be transporting you back to the days of musical soirees, performing in intimate spaces and gracious settings with three programmes playing on the theme of ‘Music and Ideas’ and including plenty of audience favourites.

We’re looking forward to this brand new series and hope you’ll come along and socialise with friends and us. Tickets for the New Zealand String Quartet Salon Series 2014 are on sale now.

“World class music as it was originally intended, so close there's a collectively held breath at the moment that bows contact strings.  Then there's enthusiastic applause from the audience whenever they feel inspired to respond.  In this generous Salon Series the NZSQ visit their audiences, rather than vice versa, inviting everyone to a concert setting that bubbles with excitement from everybody in the room.”
Kate Mead, Production Manager, Radio New Zealand Concert
 following Salon Series 2014 Featherston concert last Sunday.

"Ideal for any new listeners but also with appeal to 
seasoned chamber music devotees - a successful move, 
given the capacity audience." 
Peter Williams, Hawke's Bay Today


Salon 1

If you’re new to chamber music and want to test the waters this programme is for you. Featuring favourite movements from a range of works, the concert finishes with a full multi-movement work from Schubert. The pieces in this concert have been chosen for their popularity with chamber music fans and none are too taxing in length. More experienced chamber music devotees will also enjoy this opportunity to hear some of their favourite movements as stand-alone pieces and explore the ideas behind this breathtaking selection.

  • J.S.Bach – ‘Air’ from Suite No 3
  • Mozart – Quartet in C Major, K. 157 – Allegro, Andante, Presto
  • Puccini – ‘Crisantemi’
  • Dvořák – two waltzes, op.54
  • Tchaikovsky – ‘Cantabile’
  • Shostakovich – ‘Polka’
  • Piazzolla – Tango
  • Farr – Mambo Rambo
  • Barber – ‘Adagio’ op. 11
  • Chopin – ‘Etude’ op. 25 no 7
  • Turina – ‘The Bullfighter’
  • Schubert – Quartet in E flat, D.87


Salon 2

Haydn’s Gypsy Quartet and Grieg’s String Quartet in G minor feature in this programme for our musically sophisticated audience. These two multi-movement works are balanced by two shorter complete works. And, to provide an intriguing touch, each of the four musicians plays a solo movement from one of the suites by J. S. Bach providing an opportunity to highlight the individual instruments which form the string quartet.

  • Movements from the Bach suites
  • Haydn – ‘Gypsy’ Quartet Opus 54 no 2
  • Zhou Long – ‘Song of the Ch’in’
  • Wolf – Italian Serenade
  • Grieg – String Quartet in G minor, Opus 27

Salon 3

Specially designed for our chamber music lovers, this rich selection of three multi-movement works by Haydn, Brahms and Grieg is sure to delight. This programme is being presented for Christopher’s Classics in Christchurch.

  • Haydn – String Quartet in C major, Opus 54 no 2
  • Brahms – String Quartet No 3 in B flat major, Opus 67
  • Grieg – String Quartet No 1 in G minor, Opus 27

Howard Smith, Music & Vision     /    27/09/2014

Springtime's Salon Series 2014 has brought the superlative New Zealand String Quartet (NZSQ) to eight nationwide centres as unalike as Geraldine, population 2,301 and Auckland, population 1.5 million.

In doing so it had devised Salon 2, a programme cemented with solo J S Bach movements interleaved by complete works of Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) and Pulitzer-prize-winning Chinese/American composer Zhou Long (born Beijing, 1953).

By turns the NZSQ personnel presented items with disarming ease.

Bach items (in order) were presented by Gillian Ansell (viola) — Suite No 1 in G major BWV 1007, Prelude; Helene Pohl (violin 1) — Partita No 3 in E major, BWV 1006, Gavotte en rondeau; Douglas Beilman (violin 2) — Sonata No 1 in G minor, BWV 1001, Presto; and Rolf Gjelsten (cello) — Suite No 6 in D major, BWV 1012, Allemande.

New Zealand's 'flagship' quartet, currently in its twenty-seventh season, tours widely in Britain, Europe, North America, China, East Asia and Australia, while at home it has an enterprising, ongoing schedule.

Over the years the quartet has cultivated a rich repertoire including widely varied New Zealand music and composers' cycles from Beethoven to Bartók, Mozart to Berg, in addition to theatrical presentations on musical topics ranging from Haydn to Janáček's Kreutzer Sonata.

Music lovers congregated below the high vaulted ceiling at Hunter Council Chamber on Victoria University (Wellington) Campus [Friday 19 September 2014], largely in red brick Gothic-revival style, it seats one hundred-and-fifty with tiered fixed seating to either side and chairs on the flat. Hunter Building, completed in 1906, once housed the entire university, though other buildings were added when staff and student numbers grew. Installed after World War I, a stained-glass memorial commemorates staff and students who died.

To start, Gillian Ansell's evocative opening bars of the Bach arpeggiated Prelude BWV 1007 were heard from behind the elevated seating, bringing a hushed atmosphere, almost palpable in its effect.

The NZSQ ensemble began with music of the baroque 'master' from some seven decades later; Haydn's Op 54 No 2 (1788), a poised and bracing work with characteristic vibrancy throughout its rhapsodic Adagio; the distressed Menuetto and an Adagio finale in which a Presto section intervenes prior to the conclusion. This work bears the name of Johann Tost, leader of second violins in Haydn's orchestra at Esterháza (1783-1788).

Helene Pohl's solo arrival brought her stepping jauntily through the mid aisle to a level stage area with Bach's lilting eighteenth century 'Gavotte and Rondeau' after which the ensemble gathered for Zhou Long's beautiful Song of the Ch'in (1982), a work employing harmonics, pizzicato, stringendo, slurred glizzandi, spiccato, double stopping, and effects very near to col legno.

The Chinese ch'in (or qin), among the most expressive of instruments, has survived without significant modifications for over three thousand years. Its longevity is a testament to an inherent musical beauty and acoustic integrity. Zhou Long, a prolific Pulitzer-prize-winning Chinese American composer, has a growing professional profile attracting impressive international commissions.

Violinist Douglas Beilman tossed off the unstoppable BWV 1007 Presto to the manner born: a preface to Hugo Wolf's Italian Serenade for string quartet (1887) and string orchestra (1892). Wolf's rare non-lieder work, lasting about seven minutes, has a nimble, varied theme, played over a pizzicato figure. Its primary motif is said to be based on an old Italian lyric played on an obsolete form of oboe called the piffero, a double reed instrument with a conical bore found in the tradition of mountains and valleys of the north-west Italian Apennines.

With the interval over, cellist Gjelsten emerged behind the left tier, bringing a compelling account of the Allemande from Bach's Suite No 6 in D major BWV 1012, widely believed composed specifically for a fivestringed violoncello piccolo with a fifth upper string tuned to E.

To conclude Salon 2 2014, the Quartet brought near-orchestral breadth to Grieg's lengthy, unaccountably neglected Quartet No 2 in G minor (1878), an inspired choice conveyed with inspirational gravitas and melodic warmth, marvelously linking the work's vividly contrasting elements. The Norwegian's cyclic first surviving string quartet calls for convincing intensity and dynamic passion — qualities found here in abundance.

Memorable stuff — no late Schubert, no Bartók or Shostakovich, no Janáček, Messiaen or Golijov — but supreme music unforgettably performed.

Copyright © 27 September 2014 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand
Read more about Howard Smith at Music & Vision

The New Zealand String Quartet Gratefully Acknowledges its sponsors and funders