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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 11. June 8th, 1950

Music in Town

Music in Town

I Don't think we can complain of a lack of music so far. 1950 seems to hold promise for further music—there is Colin Horsley shortly coming to play the 1st Brahms Concerto Op. 15 with the National Orchestra under its brand new conductor, and just a few minutes ago I saw the long-awaited announcement of the forthcoming visit of Alfredo Campoli—he is due to play in Wellington in mid-September, and there is some possibility of hearing him with the orchestra as well.

Of the two soloists, I prefer Campoll—he is, as far as I know him from recordings—a mature artist; Horsley is still too young and I would almost say "too 'brilliant" to be put into the same category. Campoll's fame rests, strangely enough, on his reputation as the leader of a salon orchestra, and it comes as something of a surprise to hear him play Bach so beautifully: he has recorded the unaccompanied Chaconne, and one cannot but enjoy his serene playing there. Still, I am looking forward to our young pianist with pleasure. Brahms is a better choice than the romantic standard menu of recent years, but the Concerto No. 1 is, at the same time, tough going for soloist, orchestra and listener—much more so, as far as the latter is concerned, than the second concerto. Some preliminary listening in the Music Room of the Public Library can only be warmly recommended to those who do not yet know the Op. 15.

Chamber music is doing well in Wellington. The society, quite recently seeking new members, has Almost filled its vacant subscriptions by now—no small achievement I think. We have had two concerts so far. The first was a mixed presentation, including the Alex Lindsay String Orchestra as well as a presentation of Schubert's famous Trout Quintet Op. 114. By now, the Lindsay group has established itself as a permanent and most welcome addition to the musical life of the city. Steps are now being taken to put it on a firm, professional basis, and one can only hope that this effort will be crowned by ultimate success; not only that, one should contribute financially towards that goal. Such fine string playing is worth having, and no-one can doubt that financial security will further promote the standard of their playing. That they are by no means perfect yet is evident; that they are better than any other local group in New Zealand is equally clear. I was disappointed by their Bach, but thrilled by the imaginative playing of Grieg—Bach, of course, calls for disciplined playing and harder work, and no doubt Alex' Lindsay will be able to attend to both once the orchestra has become a permanent and professional group. It was an excellent idea to "take music to the consumer," by playing—yet not playing down!—to the "general public" in lunch-hour recitals at the D.LC. There is no need to surround chamber music with the aura of the mysteries for the Initiated only. All it really requires is a bit more inward calm than is necessary for the louder and often more bombastic symphonic music, viz, [unclear: Tschaikowsky] .... Once that calm can be [unclear: attained,] it will become apparent how [unclear: much] more easily [unclear: one] can come to grips, as it were, with the small [unclear: ensemble]of a string group. One can see the players' facial expression more clearly, and one can marvel at the unfolding of unity in playing far more easily than with an orchestra of 70.

If the Trout Quintet of last month was not a perfect example of chamber playing—It was, on the whole, too listless to be the real Schubert—the playing of the Robert Masters Quartet on June 1 was perhaps the most satisfying and richest experience in that field I can recall in recent years. In one respect only was it equalled, if not even surpassed by the Musica Viva players from Sydney—and that is an inner warmth radiating in the purely classical music—their Schubert quartets last year and the year before were warmer, more radiant and nearer what I would call the "Viennese tradition" than the Mozart I heard from the Masters Quartet.

But in sheer concerted and measured music making nothing was more enjoyable than their Dvorak quartet Op. 87, which left one breathless with admiration. Their third number, a string trio by Jean Francaix, was delightful. There is something reminiscent of Benjamin Britten in this vivid, joking and finely instrumented chamber piece. It was played to perfection. The public—and they had filled every seat of the Concert Chamber—were not slow in recognising and acknowledging a wonderful presentation.