Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

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

Orpheus Choir sets Wellington Cathedral alight with vibrancy, in Mozart and Faure

By , 30/09/2017
Orpheus Choir Music Director Brent Stewart announced at the concert's beginning that the evening's performances were dedicated by the choir to the memory of Professor Peter Godfrey, who had died a couple of days previously on September 28th. Regarded by many as the"father" of New Zealand choral music, Godfrey was closely associated with both Wellington Cathedral as Director of Music during the years 1983-89, and with the Orpheus Choir... read more

Breaths of fresh air – the Imani Winds hit Wellington

By , 26/09/2017
This was the New York-based ensemble Imani Winds' first concert in New Zealand as part of a 10-venue tour organised by CMNZ. Every member of the group during their introductions for each of the concert's items conveyed considerable pleasure and excitement at being part of this inaugural visit by the ensemble to New Zealand. They've come with something of a reputation for being innovative and adventurous in their programming... read more

A whole lot more than the girl next door – Ali Harper as Doris Day at Circa in Wellington

By , 16/09/2017
To my surprise, a friend I was recently speaking to about my theatre-going plans said, "Doris Day? Why would you want to go to a show about her?" It was a generational thing, I suspect - I counted myself lucky to have "caught" Doris Day at the end of her active career during the 1960s, whereas my friend, a dozen years younger, thought herself fortunate - obviously by heresay... read more

Playing with fire – music that sears and burns, from the New Zealand String Quartet

By , 10/09/2017
The NZSQ's 30th anniversary "Dangerous Liasons" national tour featured two programmes of works which encapsulated so much of what the ensemble has already achieved throughout its existence, including world-class presentations of some of the core string quartet repertoire, both in concert and on recordings, and an on-going committment to New Zealand music. Works by Beethoven, Bartok, Schumann and Mendelssohn have been given much-acclaimed performances in all parts of the... read more

Madrigals-a-go! defined, declared and delivered by Cantoris with director Thomas Nikora

By , 06/09/2017
The programme note was right to describe the evening's entertainment as "a delightful Spring programme", even if Wellington hadn't thus far (and hasn't since yet) had a weather response worthy of the name! Still, none of this was through want of trying on the part of Cantoris, whose singing at least warmed our insides and gave as good a precursor of the winds of change as any recent general... read more

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