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Category: Reviews – Recordings

An Angel Released – music by Eve de Castro-Robinson

By , 26/07/2011
Listening to the very opening of Releasing the Angel, the first music track on composer Eve de Castro-Robinson's new, eponymously-titled CD from Atoll Records, leaves me "on-the-spot smitten" by the music's attractive tactile quality. How readily those shimmering orchestral sounds fly towards and wrap themselves around and about my ears! - and how, just as tantalizingly, they fall away, leaving the voice of a solo 'cello floating in those same... read more

Brahms piano trio and Czech duos at St Andrew’s

By , 20/03/2011
Many of my most memorable musical experiences come from unexpected encounters with either unfamiliar compositions or stunningly good performances. In Wellington, these days, one expects at most concerts certain levels of musical understanding and technical accomplishment, but that still leaves plenty of stratospheric spaces for performances which take the listener to those out-of-the-ordinary heights that can't help but enlarge and enrich one's view of existence in general. This... read more

New Zealand wind music to mark Waitangi Day at Nelson

By , 06/02/2011
A concert to mark Waitangi Day in appropriate fashion took place at lunchtime in the Nelson School of Music. It was given over to wind instruments, driven no doubt by the decision to feature Maori instruments, taonga puoro, largely wind. The first piece for taonga puoro had been commissioned by Richard Nunns from Martin Lodge, but illness had stopped Martin from getting past a few sketches. Recent studies by Nunns... read more

Ensembles combine in magnificent Nelson concert

By , 05/02/2011
At several points during the festival the question what was the essence of chamber music arose through the pieces played. Given thaat the essential ingredient of chamber music is music with one player to a part, the rearranging of music from orchestral to chamber music, and vice-versa, raises interesting questions; and there's the related question, the effect of arrangements for other instruments or for more or fewer instruments that... read more

Connecting with Sibelius – NZSO on Naxos

By , 21/12/2010
Interesting that Pietari Inkinen and the NZSO chose to record these works before presenting them in concert - I had thought that the orchestra's "Sibelius Festival" of September 2009 was the occasion for parallel recordings of the same repertoire, but it appears from the dates given on the disc that the First and Third Symphonies at least were set down some time before the concerts, in March of that... read more

NZSO – incidentally, on Naxos…..

By , 10/12/2010
There's much to enjoy in both of these NZSO/Naxos recordings, perhaps more consistently so with the Beethoven than with the Mendelssohn, though the latter, for all its idiosyncrasies, still contains many felicities, especially with regard to the orchestral playing. Under the direction of its former chief conductor James Judd, the orchestra delivers highly-polished, fleet-fingered accounts of all of the music on both discs. Some will love the Mendelssohn recording... read more

Michael Houstoun plays Beethoven

By , 17/03/2010
What a thoroughly enjoyable and life-enhancing experience! I well remember my excitement, back in the 1990s, when Michael Houstoun began recording the Beethoven sonatas for Trust Records, beginning with the "Middle Period" works (MMT 2001-3), marvellous playing captured in what I thought was perfectly decent and listenable sound-quality. Alas, my excitement was considerably lessened by the recorded sound on subsequent issues in the Trust series, a change of venue... read more

ALFRED HILL – String Quartets Vol.2

By , 20/12/2008
Put on Track 10 of this new Naxos CD for an irresistibly foot-tapping introduction to the three quartets by Alfred Hill you’ll find here, in characterful readings by the Dominion String Quartet. Hill was Australasia’s first “recognized” composer – though born in Melbourne, his formative years were spent in New Zealand, after which he studied in Leipzig, becoming steeped in the music of Brahms, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky. The first volume... read more

RICHARD FARRELL The Complete Recordings Volume One

By , 20/12/2008
The exhumation of mostly long-invisible recordings by New Zealand’s greatest pianist has been a slow and laborious exercise. Richard Farrell who died aged 31 in 1958 left only a small number of commercial recordings, although there is other evidence of his career surviving in the Radio New Zealand sound archive which I hope will also soon reach the light of day. I heard Farrell play more than once though... read more

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