Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Diverting Debussy-inspired trio charm a responsive audience at Lower Hutt

By , 16/05/2018
Te reo Maori for the numeral 3 is toru; thus ‘Toru Trio’ is a redundancy. This instrumental trio comprises harp, viola and flute, modelled on Debussy's war-time piece; all are players in Orchestra Wellington. All the pieces were composed in the last 100 years (though the Debussy himself was a couple of years outside that frame). Their arrival on stage made a striking impression: Karen Batten in a dramatic gold... read more

Spectacular centenary concert for Leonard Bernstein from the NZSO

By , 11/05/2018
Faced with an auditorium less than half full for a concert to celebrate a hundred years of one of the most famous (I carefully refrain from using ‘greatest’) composers and conductors of the 20th century, raised interesting thoughts. One was that I had expected about this sized audience; that, before I’d seen the NZSO offer of big ticket discounts. I’ve no doubt that everyone interested in classical music and broadly defined popular... read more

Behn String Quartet opens Wellington Chamber Music’s 2018 season – brilliantly

By , 22/04/2018
Wellington Chamber Music Inc opened its 2018 season of seven concerts with a multi-national string quartet (naturally, one cannot use the word -ethnic when speaking of members of several nations inhabited by one ethnic group, European peoples), led by a New Zealander. It’s probably unusual for a musical group to adopt a literary name. Aphra Behn was a late 17th century English woman playwright and novelist. She’s always interested me:... read more

Sasha Cooke’s entrancing Berlioz songs, a bewitching premiere and masterpieces of Debussy and Ravel: thanks to De Waart and the NZSO

By , 21/04/2018
Though this turned out a great concert with an enthusiastic reception of Ravel’s Boléro at the end, I had heard a number of less than excited reactions to the programme beforehand. There’s an ‘attitude’ surrounding Boléro, and not the whole world loves Debussy as much as the music historians generally do. That left Les nuits d’ été, but then there are still a sad few who have inherited an earlier... read more

Kapiti and Palmerston North choirs in rewarding performance of Dvořák’s Stabat Mater

By , 15/04/2018
This seems to be the Dvořák year in Wellington, as two days earlier I had heard players from Orchestra Wellington perform two of his chamber works – the String Quintet No 2 and the Serenade for wind instruments, cello and bass. Orchestra Wellington is featuring five of Dvořák’s symphonies in their 2018 season; and RNZ Concert are playing them all this week! Most welcome as we tend to hear... read more

Admirable, enterprising concert of Dvořák from Orchestra Wellington players

By , 13/04/2018
Dvořák wrote two serenades: the first, for strings in 1875 and the second, for winds plus cello and bass, in 1878. We heard the latter. His two serenades occupy a rather special place in music of the Romantic era, the wind one especially, as there had not been a work of comparable charm since Mozart’s 80 years before, and none quite as fine later. Though perhaps not influenced by Dvořák... read more

Engaging recital of obscure, quirky music on saxophone and harp at St Andrew’s

By , 11/04/2018
Here was a recital that seemed to fit the space acoustically and offered a range of mostly unfamiliar music that was yet approachable; many of the audience might well be happy to hear these pieces again. The first piece was by a sixteen-year-old Debussy: Beau soir (beautiful evening). The words of the poem by Paul Bourget were printed and we were left to assume that the score, presumably voice and... read more

De Waart and NZSO: Brilliant Mozart two piano concerto and epic Mahler performance

By , 06/04/2018
For me, two of Mozart’s most beguiling works have adjacent numbers in the Köchel catalogue: the Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola (K 364) and the Concerto for two pianos (K 365), meaning that scholars believed they were written about the same time, 1779. Certainly, they have both been deeply embedded in my affections, perhaps through the performances I first heard. This was a little before Mozart’s leaving Salzburg for... read more

Intriguing improvisatory performances by Robbie Duncan and Bernard Wells at St Andrew’s

By , 21/03/2018
This is a belated, 'sort-of' review of the St Andrew’s concert on Wednesday 21 March. So I have filed it out of date order for a few days so that it will be noticed. I didn’t arrive at the concert till after 12.30; the first few minutes were spent tuning my head to the sounds and to the character of the playing, and trying to sense the players’ personalities and that of... read more

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

By , 15/03/2018
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

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