Sunday, March 20
I had looked forward to this – but as soon as the show started, the pairing of Uri Caine (piano) with The New Zealand String Quartet seemed like an odd mismatch, a pointless exercise. I feel cheated too that we didn’t get one of Caine’s solo performances. I think solo we might have seen a Mike Nock-like curiosity for unpacking jazz and classical and lining them up alongside one another, albeit in a new shape altogether. But instead we double-up pointlessly.
A piece would be performed by the quartet – straight. And then Caine would perform his solo improvisation based around the piece. Often the improvisation had almost nothing to do with the original text, a fact further highlighted by having just heard the “correct” version. It would have made more sense to have Caine deliver his explorations and extemporisations with only the knowledge of the original piece as a memory, rather than having that memory immediately refreshed.
The moments of interplay did very little also – Caine playing politely, the strings dutifully fulfilling their role, but no real meeting of the minds or worlds here.
It seemed instead a chance to “sell” this, to package it up. And the music was lost somewhere in the middle. A great shame. None of the playing was bad, at all, just unexciting and often completely unmoving.