Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Mimosa Ensemble Review

New Zealand’s Got Talent, and How!

It is often said that in sport New Zealand punches above its weight. Think rowing, cycling, World Cup cricket, not to mention rugby. That this small country also punches well above its weight in medical research, IT innovation and classical music is not so frequently proclaimed.

Those who attended the chamber music concert by the Mimosa Ensemble last Sunday afternoon in the Graham Young Youth Theatre were treated to a truly outstanding demonstration of New Zealand musical talent punching well above its weight.

The four young musicians, all barely out of their teens, have already won numerous prizes and scholarships. They more than hold their own with their European and UK contemporaries.

The Fabulous Four, Somi Kim, piano, Hugh Roberts, flute, Thomas Hutchinson, oboe, and Todd Gibson-Cornish, bassoon, are already fully-fledged virtuosi. They all possess outstanding instrumental techniques, wonderful ranges of tone colours and the rare ability to make genuinely difficult music sound easy. Moreover they are all good to look at, and play with a truly infectious enthusiasm.

All serious young Bay of Plenty musicians should have been compelled to attend, if only to discover what is possible.

The programme comprised largely unfamiliar music, Bizet and Rachmaninov being the only well-known names. Dutilleux, and Poulenc from twentieth century France, Genzmer from twentieth century Germany, and two New Zealand composers, Philip Norman and Salina Fisher, completed the composers’ list.

Fittingly, New Zealand composers bookended the programme. First up was the delightfully imaginative Birthday Music for solo flute by Philip Norman, and the concert concluded with the lovely dream-like reflective Unfinished Portrait by Salina Fisher. Here all four musicians contributed gentle subtle evocative tone colours, which shimmered and constantly changed.

In between, the audience was treated to an endless display of dazzling brilliance, but never for its own sake, nor at the expense of the music. The sheer vitality and exuberance of youth blazed gloriously in fast movements, which allowed for wonderful contrasts in the quieter movements. Mimosa is truly a group of equals. Collectively and individually they deserve the highest praise for the quality of their music-making.

Full marks to the Tauranga Chamber Music Society for selecting this programme. Aucklanders were not so fortunate.

Gordon Skinner
(Formerly Principal Bassoon, NZSO)