Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Xenia Pestova – an interpreter for all ages, at St.Andrew’s, Wellington

By , 30/07/2017
Xenia Pestova’s programme in itself commanded a good deal of interest, with its many and varied juxtapositionings of old and new adding adventurous touches to the concert’s overall excitement along with the anticipation of many individual delights. I’d not had any previous encounter with the pianist’s playing, but read with interest her “artist’s bio” resume as per programme, which outlined a goodly number of notable artistic achievements, enough to... read more

Close-up Janáček an operatic delight from NZSM

By , 28/07/2017
  It wasn't until he was almost fifty that Moravian composer Leoš Janáček began to show the world what he could really do, with the appearance of the first of his operas, Jenufa, in Brno in 1904. Up to that time a lot of his musical activities were devoted to researches into folk music, determined as he was to create from Moravian and other strains of Slavonic folk music a... read more

Adventurous, quirky, energetic – a musical-life experience for the 2017 NZSONYO

By , 14/07/2017
Thank goodness for Benjamin Britten's variously-named The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra / Variations and Fugue on a theme of Purcell Op.34! At the recent pair of NZNYO concerts in Wellington and Auckland it was music which, unlike the works making up the rest of the programme, was reasonably familiar to the audience. As such, the piece provided a benchmark of sorts with which the youthful orchestra's playing... read more

Brahms for lunch at St.Andrew’s-on-The-Terrace

By , 12/07/2017
  As a counter to the day's wintry woes, the music of Johannes Brahms provided an interlude of gentle autumnal rest and refreshment, with the first of the two late clarinet sonatas (here performed in the version for viola made by the composer), and the two songs which make up Op.91, Zwei Gesänge for voice, viola and piano. Both compositions occasioned interestingly flavoured associations, if of a diametrically opposed nature... read more

Destination Beehive 2017 at Circa Theatre – too serious to be taken seriously

By , 09/07/2017
Legend has it that American songwriter and political satirist Tom Lehrer gave up satire when American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It's perhaps just as tempting for any present-day satirist to take a similar stance in the face of the antics of those real-life dodgers, shysters, con-artists and masters of illusion we know as politicians - why bother, she or he might argue... read more

Jeux, Debussy’s quiet revolutionary, steals Orchestra Wellington’s show

By , 07/07/2017
This was the second of Orchestra Wellington's 2017 series of concerts containing works commissioned by the renowned impresario Serge Diaghilev for the dance company he had formed, the Ballets Russes, regarded by many performance historians as the most influential dance company of the 20th Century. It was the Ballets Russes company which, thanks to Diaghilev's commissions, was to premiere three of Igor Stravinsky's most famous ballets, the Firebird, Petroushka... read more

Magical Mendelssohn and tempestuous Tchaikovsky from the Wellington Chamber Orchestra

By , 02/07/2017
First impressions are, as they say, important, although they can sometimes be misleading. If one took the opening few minutes of the Wellington Chamber Orchestra's Sunday concert, featuring Felix Mendelssohn's adorable Overture "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and peremptorily judged the concert's music-making by the short-winded and unatmospheric opening chords, and the somewhat unseemly scramble of upper string lines attempting and failing to co-ordinate their rhythmic patternings right throughout this... read more

Schumann and Barber – adventurous and absorbing sounds from the NZSO, with Daniel Müller-Schott

By , 17/06/2017
Poor old Brahms was left out of the title for this concert, despite his "Tragic Overture" opening the programme, though therein lies a rub - I thought in a sense it was apposite this time round, as the NZSO's performance under James Feddeck for me lacked any real sense of tragedy - rather it came across as an intermittently "worried" piece of music trying its best here and there... read more

More power to String Trios – the Aroha Ensemble at St.Andrew’s-on-The-Terrace

By , 11/06/2017
There's no doubt that the string quartet as a genre has dominated the world of chamber music since the time of Josef Haydn - the repertoire is astonishing in its depth and diversity, and together with the sheer number of ensembles, both historical and contemporary, constitutes almost a world of its own. The effect of this has, I think, tended to downplay the "presence" in the chamber music firmament... read more

NZ Opera’s 2017 Carmen surprises, disconcerts and delights

By , 01/06/2017
There's almost always a lot to like in any production of Carmen. On the face of things the opera has everything that any theatre-goer-cum-music-lover could wish for - like the Shakespearean character who says "four feasts are forward", one can say Carmen has the four things which ensure operatic success - spectacle, drama, compelling characters and memorable tunes. Of course, these things don't make or play themselves, and, despite... read more

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