Podcast Classics

KENNETH YOUNG: Piano Trio

Performed by NZTrio. Recorded by RNZ Concert, 8 November 2015, at Q Loft, Auckland.

Flowering cactus

Flowering cactus Photo: Public Domain

Composer Kenneth Young says 'There is no programme as such, but it's not abstract, put it that way. When I began writing it I was feeling angry about a couple of things that were going on – political and societal issues here in New Zealand. My ire was raised, and when my ire is raised I always find it a good time to pick up a pen and take out a piece of manuscript paper. That's why the trio starts angrily, and the first section continues all fast and furious until it reaches the expressive part of the piece, when the tension dissipates and it becomes more melancholy.

There's a sad little waltz in the piano and a lament from Ashley, then an uplifting solo from Justine towards the end. I don't want to say how it ends – that would spoil the surprise! But let's just say there are several mood swings in there. What I can say is I've loved writing it. They're all friends of mine and it's just a joy to be able to write for people who can play anything I put in front of them.'

Kenneth Young

Kenneth Young Photo: Deborah Rawson

KENNETH YOUNG (b.1955)

Kenneth Young’s development as a composer began as a 15 year old while attending Cashmere High School in Christchurch where he came under the influence of his music teacher, Frank Dennis, who sensed an ability beyond Young’s involvement with the brass band movement, encouraging him to write, conduct, and embark on a course of serious music study. Young began playing both tuba and percussion with the Christchurch Symphony and National Youth Orchestra while studying composition at Canterbury and Auckland Universities, eventually being appointed Principal Tuba of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, a position which gave him the financial independence to freely pursue composition and conducting. He has composed a considerable body of work for orchestra, but has also written solo instrumental and chamber music, and describes it as ‘the acid test’ for a composer. ‘You’ve got to be very much on your game, because there’s nowhere to hide. It’s very good for honing the old technique.’ This is his first piano trio and it was commissioned by NZTrio with funding from Creative New Zealand, in Kenneth Young’s 60th birthday year, 2015.

NZTrio

NZTrio Photo: John Crawford

NZTrio

Members of NZTrio are Justine Cormack (violin), Ashley Brown (cello), and Sarah Watkins (piano)

They’re three born-and-bred down-to-earth kiwis, with three Doctorates of Music between them and 14 years of playing together. They have a shared vision to champion NZ music within a vast and vibrant repertoire, uniting sound and soul for people around the world.

Recorded by RNZ Concert

Producer: Tim Dodd

Engineer: Adrian Hollay

 

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