Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Handel’s Messiah – music as a living entity

By , 09/12/2017
This was a most interesting “Messiah”, containing as it did a number of interpretative and executive detailings I wouldn’t quite frankly have expected to encounter in the same single performance. Of course, for me to actually say that goes against the grain of what I’ve always felt about Baroque Music and its presentation, that its composers and musicians (and almost certainly its listeners as well) would have been intensely... read more

Cataclysmic conclusion to Orchestra Wellington’s Diaghilev season

By , 02/12/2017
This concert began with two of the most famous chords in all nineteenth-century music, those which opened a thrilling performance by Orchestra Wellington of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, the work by which the composer allegedly intended to celebrate the achievements of Napoleon Bonaparte, but changed his mind, and, according to an eye-witness account, scratched out the original dedication, and reinscribed it as “composed in memory of a great man”. Napoleon or... read more

Vivante Ensemble’s Vaughan Williams and Mendelssohn set St.Andrew’s buzzing

By , 29/11/2017
The St Andrew's-on-The-Terrace Lunchtime Concert Series here in Wellington has over the years produced some memorable musical experiences, but surely none more exhilarating that what we heard given by the talented Vivante Ensemble on this occasion. To be variously entranced, mesmerized, captivated, energized and thoroughly intoxicated as a listener at a concert performance is to experience a "spirit of delight" which, as the poet laments, "rarely comest" to the... read more

Peter Pan – stardust forever at Circa Theatre

By , 18/11/2017

Now here was fun heaped up in spadefuls onto classic, tried-and-true fantasy with a splendid pantomimic treatment of J.M.Barrie's play "Peter Pan: the boy who wouldn't grow up", beloved of generations over a century of years. Writers Pinky Agnew and Lorae Parry, in their first-ever pantomime, managed to give us all the trappings of the art-form - music, slapstick comedy and topical jokes - while maintaining enough of... read more

Orchestra Wellington out-performs the fireworks with a stunning “Petrouchka”

By , 04/11/2017
Audiences can be curiously unpredictable, on occasions exhilarating and galvanizing masses of energy to be part of, caught up in the excitement of either enthusiastic or rapt responses to some performances, (especially those involving soloists) and then for no apparent reason, every once in a while, strangely under-responsive. Why this sudden out-of-the-blue observation, going a little against the grain of my normally unrelieved positivism as a music reviewer? It was... 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

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

NZ Opera’s Kátya Kabanová packs a punch at the St.James in Wellington

By , 07/10/2017
Janáček wrote to his long-time, would-be amour Kamila Stösslova about his leading character in the new opera he was planning, in 1920 - "The main character there is a woman, so gentle by nature.....a breeze would carry her away, let alone the storm that breaks over her...." This was Kátya Kabanová, or Káťa Kabanová as the Czech spelling has it, the first of three operas whereby the composer sublimated... read more

China/New Zealand Ode to the Moon concert with a radiant Aroha Quartet

By , 01/10/2017
This was one of those concerts that, had I been an ordinary audience member I would have looked forward to immensely! However, being a reviewer and facing the prospect of commenting on a genre of music about which I knew very little, I felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation about what I might encounter! As it turned out I need not have worried, as the music written and... read more

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