Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Ron Newton plays for St James 2017 Sunday Organ Series

Dr Ron Newton, as well as being an organist, is an organ builder and travels throughout the country working on organs English composer John Baptiste Calkin (1827 – 1905) is not often heard of these days.  He wrote a lot of church and organ music.  I found his march rather undistinguished, though obviously written for a time when organ music was often symphonic in nature (and often being transcriptions of... read more

Excellent and interesting mix of Mozart quintet and Respighi song

The sun had well and truly set before I made my way to Karori through cold southerly rain and wind for a charity concert in the series organised by Christiaan van der Zee and others.  The regular Friday evening concerts in winter have usually been in St. Ninian’s Church; the change of venue brought a quite different acoustic.  This church has a vaulted timber ceiling and plastered walls, producing... read more

Festival Singers – an entertaining but mixed operatic bag at Waiwhetu

It was a splendid idea for a concert:  Perform sacred works, or quasi-religious works, by some of the great opera composers. Vary it with instrumental pieces, including some for strings, and a soloist or two. Introduce the items in informative and amusing, but brief, words. The formula was fine, but the performances did not always live up to the promise. Using an electronic organ, sometimes with piano, to accompany the pieces... read more

Schumann and Barber – adventurous and absorbing sounds from the NZSO, with Daniel Müller-Schott

By , 17/06/2017
Poor old Brahms was left out of the title for this concert, despite his "Tragic Overture" opening the programme, though therein lies a rub - I thought in a sense it was apposite this time round, as the NZSO's performance under James Feddeck for me lacked any real sense of tragedy - rather it came across as an intermittently "worried" piece of music trying its best here and there... read more

Archi d’Amore Zealanda with delightful programme of New Zealand compositions, plus Bach

The ensemble brought a thoroughly delightful programme to an appreciative audience.  What was unusual was that apart from the solo Bach work, the music played was contemporary, whereas one would expect that the viola d’amore would be playing music from a much earlier times.  The programme notes included this comment ‘...the instrument has been enjoying a renaissance since the mid-twentieth century, with new works being composed and old works... read more

Winds and piano: a masterpiece and three French delights from Zephyr

By , 11/06/2017
The players from the NZSO who comprised five-sixths of the Zephyr Wind Ensemble have played together in varying combinations over the years, and several will have played with Diedre Irons. What this leads one to expect is ensemble and musical rapport at a very high level. It was. One of the characteristics of the famous Mozart quintet is the entrancing interlacing of the individual instruments. As with most chamber music, it... read more

Naxos issues CD from NZSQ of Brahms’s 3rd string quartet and clarinet quintet

By , 11/06/2017
The New Zealand String Quartet recorded Brahms’s first two string quartets, Op 51, in July 2014 at the same place. All modern recordings of Brahms’s three string quartets fill the second disc with another comparable (occasionally a non-comparable) work, sometimes by Brahms; the filler has been the clarinet quintet on several occasions. String Quartet No 3 Setting the third quartet alongside the clarinet quintet was logical enough, but the juxtaposition created a... read more

More power to String Trios – the Aroha Ensemble at St.Andrew’s-on-The-Terrace

By , 11/06/2017
There's no doubt that the string quartet as a genre has dominated the world of chamber music since the time of Josef Haydn - the repertoire is astonishing in its depth and diversity, and together with the sheer number of ensembles, both historical and contemporary, constitutes almost a world of its own. The effect of this has, I think, tended to downplay the "presence" in the chamber music firmament... read more

Excellent performances of UK and US music from Wellington Youth Choir

By , 09/06/2017
The Sacred Heart Cathedral is a good place for singing – for both singers and listeners, and so it was especially good to hear this generally well-schooled and enthusiastic young choir, in a wide variety of songs. The British song tradition The concert began with an account of God Save the Queen, which prompted no one to stand, because it was clearly an arrangement, and a rather entertaining arrangement of the... read more

Choral singing flourishes in Wellington region Big Sing gala concert

As I said in 2015 (in a review of the Big Sing National Finale concert), it is marvellous to find so many young people taking part in choirs and obviously enjoying it.  Apparently there are more choirs in the 2017 Festival than ever before, and it seems to me that the standard is always rising.  The fact that all the choirs learn all their pieces by heart is staggering... read more

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