Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Hungarian pianist Dénes Varjon at Waikanae with enterprising programme, rich in Bartók

By , 19/02/2017
The first concert in the nine-concert Waikanae chamber music series neatly filled a hole in my piano recital experiences that the same programme would have provided in Nelson if I’d been there the previous Sunday. Varjon was one of this year’s stars at the biennial Adam Chamber Music Festival in Nelson (see my review date-lined 11 February). He was hot news there and even though I heard him in various... read more

Days Bay Opera’s twelfth production handles Eugene Onegin with youthful energy and perceptivity

By , 15/02/2017
Days Bay Opera continues its eclectic repertory policies, that have ranged from the mid 16th century to the 20th. For this, it was back to the garden, after the indoors performance of Theodora, on a fine but somewhat cool evening. What may well have been a worry was a summer that is hardly worthy of the name, and further performances of both pieces on the following days may not have... read more

Nelson Chamber Music festival again New Zealand’s biennial musical highlight

By , 11/02/2017
My visit this year to the Nelson Chamber Music Festival was shorter than in previous years, arriving late afternoon on the Tuesday and departing midday Saturday. The highlights from abroad were the presence of Hungarian pianist Dénes Varjon, the Australian tenor, Andrew Goodwin (singing Schumann’s Dichterliebe), the Goldner Quartet and cellist Matthew Barley. The essence of the festival rests with the New Zealand String Quartet, which founded and sustained the festival... read more

Days Bay Opera does it again with Handel’s “Theodora”

By , 11/02/2017
One of the pleasures of reviewing for me is fronting up to performances of music which I simply don’t know, and subsequently asking myself (sometimes in tones of amazement and disbelief) why it is I’ve never encountered this or that work before, finding it so beautiful / profound / thrilling /whatever! Thus it was with this often compelling production of Handel’s oratorio Theodora, a work the composer wrote towards... read more

Unfamiliar but rewarding music to mark Conference on 17th and 18th century English music

When on Wednesday after the lunchtime concert someone drew my attention to a poster in St Andrew’s Church foyer, advertising a concert the following early evening, I was unaware of its provenance.  It transpired that it was in association with the 11th Biennial Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies.  Therefore the substantial audience was largely made up of delegates to this... read more

St Andrew’s opens 2017 lunchtime concerts with enjoyable baroque concert

The concert was in part the Wellington launch of a new CD of the music of these two composers performed by Maurice, Curry, and Polish and Hungarian musicians.  An opening speech was delivered by the Polish Ambassador to New Zealand, H.E. Zbigniew Gniatkowski.  After the concert enjoyable refreshments were available.  The concert, the first in the 2017 St. Andrew’s series, was very well attended. The programme began with Christoph Graupner’s... read more

Melbourne’s Ring cycle revival a spectacular triumph

By , 16/12/2016
Introduction I went to the third run of the Ring in Melbourne, in December. At its first incarnation in 2013, I had rather set it aside, partly because the ticket prices were pretty steep – well over $1000 for the four – and something in me said that, as I have seen the entire cycle five times over the years, in various places including Bayreuth, I doubted whether Opera Australia... read more

No Christmas without “Messiah” – with the Tudor Consort and the NZSO

  This was a remarkable performance, in many ways.  The smaller-than-usual orchestra was matched by a larger-than-usual Tudor Consort in fine voice, and splendid soloists, all directed by Australian Handel specialist Graham Abbott.  Unusually, there were no cuts in the score; all was performed.  ‘Their sound is gone out’, in Part II is usually a chorus.  But this was composed three years after the première; in the first performance it... read more

Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera triumphs in Handel’s Theodora

By , 06/12/2016
I’m glad that last year I broke the ice with Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera, for my delightful experience with Grétry’s L’amant jaloux made me more than ready for another. The title Theodora did rang a bell: my first reaction was that it was an oratorio, as I was fairly sure that I’d recognise the names at least of most of Handel's operas that have been much performed. Furthermore, it was in... read more

Shaken but not stirred – Wellington Chamber Orchestra’s “Peter and the Wolf” and other delights

This concert was very well attended, the audience including many children, despite its not being advertised on RNZ Concert’s “Live Diary”, or the fact that the NZSO performed one of the works the previous afternoon at a free concert at Te Papa. The Gabrieli works featured brass instruments only. The nature of the work and the instruments employed were described by Andrew Joyce, and the instruments were demonstrated by their... read more

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