REVIEW: Ensemble Zefiro
Chamber Music New Zealand
Wednesday 15 August
Nelson Centre for Musical Arts
Reviewed by Paul G Taylor
At first sight a programme consisting entirely of five Mozart Divertimenti might seem somewhat mono-dimensional, especially when played on musical instruments more than two centuries old. But once the shock of seldom-heard ancient oboes, bassoons and horns is overcome and the audience realizes that it all works beautifully the music takes over.
The stage holds six music stands and a lone hat stand to their right. It soon becomes apparent that this is there for the horn players to hang various lengths of brass tubing whose purpose is to adjust the key of their instruments to the key of the music – there were no valves in Mozart’s day!
Likewise, the baroque oboes and bassoons are a far cry from their modern counterparts, with no metal keys or linkages to complicate things and a sharper, more penetrative tone.
When the music begins it is not immediately clear that the unfamiliar tonal quality of the woodwinds can accommodate Mozart’s creativity. This is merely a temporary setback of expectation and the audience is rapidly immersed in the beauty of the music and mesmerized by the extreme skill of the musicians.
One is drawn to the second bassoonist in particular. His face and tongue move at lightning speed to master fast passage after fast passage.
As the programme progresses a bond between the musicians and the audience is established and the players reveal a capacity for gently buffoonery, a welcome sprinkling of seasoning on a tasty feast.
There is an encore, during which, musician by musician, the ensemble descends from the stage into the audience leaving a forlorn bassoonist. He eventually succumbs and joins his mates.
Time to go home after a unique concert.