Sunday 13 February

Amici Ensemble with Jian Liu (Piano)

“Here was music-making of a very high order indeed and those in attendance must surely count themselves hugely privileged” – Music and Vision.




Haydn:            Piano Trio No 39 in G Major “Gypsy”
Shostakovich: Piano Quintet in G minor, Opus 57
Brahms:          String Sextet No 1 in Bb Major, Opus 18

Donald Armstrong (violin), Andrew Thomson (viola), Malavika Gopal (violin),
Alexander McFarlane (viola), Jian Liu (piano), Andrew Joyce (cello), Ken Ichinose (cello)

Donald Armstrong and his Amici Ensemble are regular favourites in Waikanae – no season would be complete without them. New to this familiar group of accomplished NZSO musicians is Alexander McFarlane, recently appointed as Associate Principal Viola. And they are joined by renowned pianist Jian Liu in a programme of three masterworks from three very different eras.

The concert opens with what is probably the best-known of Haydn’s piano trios, nicknamed the “Gypsy” because of its exhilarating finale “in the Hungarian Style”. In total contrast is Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet, written in 1940 when Russia was on the brink of war. The first performance was a triumph and won Shostakovich Russia’s highest honour – the Stalin Prize. The quintet is regarded as one of the composer’s greatest achievements and one of the greatest chamber works of the 20th Century.

Brahms wrote his two youthful string sextets some years before he ventured to write a string quartet. He relished the deep sonority, rich harmonies and almost orchestral range of tone-colours that the additional viola and cello offered, and the sextets stand among his greatest masterpieces. No 1 in Bb is a work of great charm, in turns intimate, melancholy, humorous and triumphant.