Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Imposing commemoration of 500th anniversary of Lutheran Reformation

By , 29/10/2017
This was an ecumenical service, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, led by Bishop Mark Whitfield of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand, in the Anglican Cathedral, with choral support from the Cathedral choir. Earlier in the year, there was a commemorative service that involved the Roman Catholic Church at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, jointly hosted by Cardinal John Dew and Bishop... read more

Rachmaninov – jubilation and bitterness, but sheer poetry from Joyce Yang

By , 27/10/2017

A beautifully put-together programme, this, devoted to the music of Rachmaninov, and in almost every way, superbly delivered! There could be no doubt, however as to who the "star of the show" was - Korean-born American pianist Joyce Yang gave what seemed to me a performance in a thousand of the composer's fearsome D Minor Concerto, regarded by many as one of the most technically difficult works for... read more

At last! Michael Houstoun’s Beethoven recordings for Rattle reach the Diabelli Variations

By , 24/10/2017
Early in 1819, Anton Diabelli, who was a music publisher in Vienna, and something of a dilettante composer, wrote a waltz, and invited all of the leading composers of the time in and around Vienna to compose a single variation on his work. Diabelli's intention was to publish the collection as a complete set, planning to raise money for patriotic and humanitarian purposes relating to the recent Napoleonic Wars Included... read more

Outstanding concert to mark disasters at Aberfan and the Pike River: music by Schubert and Karl Jenkins

By , 23/10/2017
Concerts by the Wellington Youth Orchestra in the past, in my experience, have been poorly promoted and have played to an audience numbering just a few score. This one was very different. Hand-bills had been thrust into the hand at most concerts in the previous fortnight and there were interviews on radio and in the press drawing attention to the tragedies that the orchestra had decided to commemorate. The concert came... read more

Alexander Gavrylyuk – transcendental pianism at Waikanae

By , 22/10/2017
I reviewed Alexandre Gavrylyuk's astounding recital at Waikanae last year, reflecting on that occasion, on the pianist's ability to enchant his listeners with every note, and in doing so, display a Sviatoslav Richter-like capacity to invest each sound with a kind of "centre of being" which suggests that the interpreter has gotten right to the heart of what the music means. Last time, it was the very first note... read more

Spring hailed in impressive exhibition of 20th century French choral songs by Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir

By , 21/10/2017
Here was a concert to which many of us attended, blind. The publicity had mentioned Debussy and Poulenc (and these were indeed the only well-known composers) and “romantic chansons and a quirky song-cycle”. It was dedicated totally to songs in French, mostly by French composers. I guess the programme was assembled through the wonderful resources of Google and Wikipedia by searching ‘vocal music for Springtime’; though perhaps I underestimate Karen... read more

Wonderful Mozart trio for clarinet, viola and piano (plus Schumann and Bruch) from Karori Classics series

By , 20/10/2017
The fall-out from the International Viola Congress a few weeks ago seems to be continuing relentlessly. One Wednesday, viola students and a month ago the same violist as appeared this evening, at the previous Karori Classics concert. They turned the programme round, starting with the two pieces from Bruch’s Eight Pieces for the instruments gathered at St Mary’s this evening. What we heard here was probably the complete works for... read more

Maximum Minimalism – simple, state-of-the-art complexities from Stroma

By , 19/10/2017
“Maximum Minimalism” was the wittily oxymoronic title for this concert by Wellington’s (New Zealand’s?) premiere contemporary music ensemble, Stroma. “Minimalism” was the name bestowed on a group of American composers who, in the 1960s, reacted against the forbidding complexity of atonal and serial music and began (largely independently of each other) employing the extended repetition of simple elements. Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley were the pioneers (La... read more

Viola Students from the New Zealand School of Music with diverting sampler of well-played pieces

By , 18/10/2017
Three violists and two pianists put this lunchtime programme together. Such student presentations always reveal music that one has never come across before, and the discoveries here – not the composers' names, which one had a casual knowledge of – were of the pieces of music. A viola concerto by Anton Hoffmeister, a contemporary of Mozart, a character piece by Schumann, viola sonatas by Anthony Ritchie, Hindemith and Rebecca... read more

Wilma Smith and Friends play fine programme for Wellington Chamber Music

By , 15/10/2017
We reviewed Wilma Smith and Friends at their Waikanae concert on 24 September. There they had played Beethoven’s not-much-played Op 16 piano quartet, Dvořák’s greatly loved Op 87 as well as the piano quartet by the group’s pianist, Leathwick.  I suppose I can wait till next August when I see that Wellington Chamber Music’s just announced 2018 Sunday series will hear the Dvořák played by the Leppänen, Thomson, Joyce... read more

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