Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Saxophones for all seasons from the NZSM

The puzzle of this concert was that it was advertised, and titled on the programme cover, as ‘Original and transcribed works from Vivaldi to today’, yet the earliest composer featured was Berlioz!  However, I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed Vivaldi on saxophones, so am not mourning the lack. The items were introduced by Deborah Rawson, Head of Woodwind at the School, in brief, interesting and lively fashion –... read more

Heavyweight opera composer-contenders put through their paces

By , 28/05/2013
I remember recently reading a "rant" (oops! - pardon my alliteration!) from a columnist in some record magazine (which I don't have enough money to subscribe to and therefore don't have to hand, having probably borrowed the public library copy). The diatribe was against the "mad-headed observance" of composer anniversaries, of which there are a number falling within this year of grace 2013. Without wishing to increase the readership of... read more

Twin Peaks – a concert of Verdi and Wagner

The NZSM Orchestra keeps up a pretty hot pace, with relatively frequent concerts.  This was ‘the big one’; the annual Town Hall concert, and probably the last for some time, due to the earthquake strengthening to take place at that venue. However, the coldest day of the year so far would, without doubt, have been the main reason for relatively low audience numbers.  This was a shame, because the orchestra... read more

Orchestra of Swing, courtesy of “The Duke”

By , 26/05/2013
The only clue I had to what we might be in for, during the course of the oncoming Orchestra Wellington's concert with the overall name "Night Creature", was George Gershwin's An American in Paris, which I knew reasonably well. I had not heard any of Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" - though I remember reading a review of the composer's own recording many years ago, one whose description of the work's full-on... read more

Wellington Youth Choir – stories for the telling

A varied concert of items telling stories was given by the Wellington Youth Choir, under its Acting Musical Director.  It began in great style, with ‘The Circle of Life’, from the movie The Lion King; the music by Elton John and Lebo M, with lyrics by Time Rice.  Drums and other percussion instruments plus whistling opened the piece, along with a very good male solo.  The choir had impressive... read more

The Goldbergs with strings attached…

By , 22/05/2013
I wouldn't dream of going so far as to say that I NEVER, EVER want to hear the Goldberg Variations played on a keyboard instrument again - but all the while the New Zealand String Quartet was performing this work in an arrangement made by Bach scholar (and harpsichordist!) William Cowdery, I was transported, wafted into a world of enchantment from which all keys, jacks, hammers and pedals -... read more

Delights and disappointments from the Poinsett Trio

(Reviewer's note: It is now known that Deirdre Hutton's violin had, before the concert on Sunday 19 May at the Ilott Theatre, developed quite a long seam opening.  This led to major problems with sound production.  The matter could not be fixed prior to the concert. Apparently they tried to get hold of an Auckland violin maker prior to the concert, who was visiting Wellington, but didn't succeed, as she... read more

Larks and serious business, with Yevgeny Sudbin and the NZSO

It was gratifying to see the Michael Fowler Centre virtually full, no doubt due at least in part to the presence on the programme, The Lark Ascending, the work that tops the Radio New Zealand Concert ‘Settling the Score’ popularity programme almost every year.  Works by English composers book-ended the concert, and an Englishman was the conductor, who obviously knew the music very well, especially the Elgar. While the concert-master... read more

Fair, fresh winds from home

A concert featuring two world premières is not a common event in New Zealand.  However, this was the case on Wednesday. The concert began, though, with a work from 1977, of Edwin Carr.  It was titled Two Mansfield Poems, and the two beautiful poems by Katherine Mansfield were included with the printed programme: ‘Sanary’ (1916) and ‘Sleeping Together’ (1908).  The first piece echoed the sunny day of the first poem ... read more

Worlds of difference from the NZ Trio

By , 15/05/2013
It took me a while to "settle in" to the Town Hall's more-than-ample sound-spaces for this concert - the NZ Trio had daringly opted to begin with Korngold's Op.1 Piano Trio, music that called for plenty of rich, vibrant and well-uphostered sounds from the ensemble. Despite the vigour with which the players began the piece, I thought that the amplitude of the acoustic seemed at first to dwarf the... read more

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