Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Great singer, and audience, sold short at hybrid festival concert

By , 19/03/2018
I’ll see if I can find space later on to mention the few good things about this concert, apart from the fact that the great Anne Sophie von Otter actually came here and sang for a while. The Programme First, let’s see what we could have expected. The first statement in the notice of her recital in the festival season brochure wrote: “Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sophie von Otter is one of... read more

Interesting if unorthodox Festival programme of music for organ and brass at St Mary of the Angels

By , 13/03/2018
Having attended the previous chamber music concert in St Mary of the Angels which seemed to have an audience of only about 60 or 70, I was rather astonished to find that what was a predominantly organ recital was a full house (or should that be una chiesa piena?). I have been heard to express a certain weariness at the four-year-long obsession with remembering the horrors of World War I;... read more

Kings Singers and Voices New Zealand combine for wonderful, eclectic concert for New Zealand Festival

Surprisingly perhaps, The King’s Singers were full of praise for the Michael Fowler Centre as a venue for their type of singing.  They demonstrated what true projection is, both in speaking and singing.  The breadth of their repertoire was astonishing, the clarity, precision and warmth of their utterances, breathtaking. This concert was part of a 50th anniversary tour; it was surprising to learn that it is 30 years since they... read more

Largely successful Japanese chamber music concert at St Mary of the Angels

By , 09/03/2018
There are, inevitably, concerts where a critic feels out of his depth; music that is almost of the future, or from a sophisticated culture that one has little experience of. One often approaches them with trepidation, fearing that it will be music that is so remote in spirit and language from familiar Western music that one has no touchstone by which to assess it fairly, certainly with any sense... read more

Remarkable integration of musical cultures in spite of documentation and presentation shortcomings

Of the skill manifest in this unusual concert there can be no doubt.  Regarding the audience’s involvement there are regrets: there were no notes about individual works in the brief three pages in the composite programme booklet; most of the information was about the players.  No spoken introductions were given, and no explanation of the taonga pūoro, as Richard Nunns gave at a Festival concert years ago.  I am... read more

Polished Australian string quartet at St Mary of the Angels Festival series

The series of chamber music concerts in the Festival are all being held at St. Mary of the Angels Church.  They are all listed in one programme booklet – which means not much detail is provided for each; for example brief programme notes, no enumeration or tempi markings for the movements.  Brief introductions were given by one of the players.  The concert was being recorded by RNZ Concert.  It... read more

Berkahn shows how you can have fun with Bach

By , 28/02/2018
This was one of those concerts that looked enigmatic from the outside, and I wondered whether it was going to deserve a review – not that I’ve ever failed to be greatly entertained by all my previous encounters with the multi-talented Berkahn. The secret here was to take several of Bach’s Two-part Inventions and respond to what Berkahn takes to be Bach’s suggestion, taking them as starting point to turn... read more

Memorable musical and emotional experience from Jordi Savall, Hespèrion XXI and Tembembe Ensamble Continuo

By , 24/02/2018
I always find it interesting, and indeed relevant, to look back to find when international musicians were in New Zealand previously. My own reviews for The Evening Post, and then The Dominion Post record Jordi Savall's coming to the then New Zealand International Arts Festival in both 1996 (when they gave concerts in both the Town Hall and St Mary of the Angels) and 2000, which was the last... read more

Two resounding recordings from Rattle – classics and a feisty newcomer

By , 23/02/2018
Taking the contents of both CDs listed above, one might argue that there are two "classic" compositions to be found among these works, one recognised internationally and the other locally, each defined as such by its popularity and general recognition as a notable piece of work. If this suggests a kind of facile populist judgement, one might reflect that posterity does eventually take over, either continuing to further enhance... read more

Most accomplished performances of piano trios by Psathas and Brahms

An ambitious chamber music programme by an enterprising and highly skilled trio was attended by a larger-than-usual audience, confounding the fears of organiser Marjan van Waardenberg, who thought the weather would put people off.  But no; by 12.15 it was just a normal Wellington windy day, with sunshine. There were no programme notes, but two members of the trio briefly introduced the items, in turn.  However, it would have been... read more

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