Review | Beethoven’s birthday a delight

Justine Cormack (violin) and Kate Boyd (piano) played in honour of Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

The Lake Wānaka Centre was filled, nearly to capacity, on Saturday, February 15, for a highly anticipated and very warmly received violin / piano concert. The musicians were Justine Cormack (violin) and Kate Boyd (piano) who were performing the second of their three concert series to play Beethoven’s ten violin / piano sonatas, to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth.  

If that seems an improbably long time ago, recall that in the year of Beethoven’s birth, 1770, James Cook made a landfall to explore the Queensland coast of Australia, so it spans almost the entire European history of New Zealand.

For the Wānaka recital the performers played sonata numbers two and three in the first half and then numbers seven and eight.  The music was a delight to hear, it was fascinating to trace the early influence of his role model in the light enthusiasm of the works, particularly Sonata Number Two.  In the second half, the C Minor Sonata, number seven, was much more brooding with louder expressive chords and a darker character overall but this was balanced with a lighter expression in the final work, the G Major Sonata, number eight.

The wonderfully accomplished performers looked and sounded very comfortable in their playing.  I thought the piano slightly overspoke the violin at times and I wondered that the sound might have been more balanced if the reflector panels had been a little flatter and further forward, but nothing detracted from a sparkling performance.

We were lucky to be on their circuit and hope that we shall hear more of their superb artistry in the future.

(Editor’s note: with all the brouhaha over the government’s attempt to cancel RNZ Concert FM, it was a delight to see a packed theatre and not a cardigan in sight. My 8-year-old has been badgering me to learn piano after watching this performance —  so raise your glasses to Concert FM and have faith that classical music is in safe hands with the next generation.)


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