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Days Bay Opera does it again with Handel’s “Theodora”

By , 11/02/2017
One of the pleasures of reviewing for me is fronting up to performances of music which I simply don’t know, and subsequently asking myself (sometimes in tones of amazement and disbelief) why it is I’ve never encountered this or that work before, finding it so beautiful / profound / thrilling /whatever! Thus it was with this often compelling production of Handel’s oratorio Theodora, a work the composer wrote towards... read more

Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera triumphs in Handel’s Theodora

By , 06/12/2016
I’m glad that last year I broke the ice with Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera, for my delightful experience with Grétry’s L’amant jaloux made me more than ready for another. The title Theodora did rang a bell: my first reaction was that it was an oratorio, as I was fairly sure that I’d recognise the names at least of most of Handel's operas that have been much performed. Furthermore, it was in... read more

Schubert Concert at St.Andrews promises a weekend’s abundance

By , 03/06/2016

This was the first of what promised to be a delightful and rewarding "Schubertiade" of concerts featuring various solo artists and ensembles. The title "Cornucopia" possibly referred to the variety of instruments used throughout the evening; or else, to the range and scope of the composer's writing for these instrumental combinations. Whatever the case, the results suited the "abundant supply of good things" description suggested by the word... read more

Gareth Farr’s Relict Furies – resonant and moving at Wellington Cathedral

By , 15/03/2016

This concert at the Wellington Cathedral of St.Paul all but replicated the programme of an Edinburgh Festival Concert last year, performed on the 26th August at the Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, and featuring the premiere of Gareth Farr's work Relict Furies. On that occasion the Scottish Ensemble was joined by well-known mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly in the performance of Farr's piece, to great critical acclaim: - "a heart-stabbing evocation of... read more

Fire, flamenco and folksong ‘cello style, from Ramón Jaffé

By , 01/03/2016

The title given to this concert by the artists rolled off the tongue colourfully and evocatively enough - however, I confess that I found myself involuntarily drawn into slightly circumspect mode over the word "fire", having over the years grown somewhat weary of being assailed by regular barrages of hype from major arts organization by way of advertising their oncoming productions.

As it turned out, I needn't have... read more

Welllington Chamber Orchestra – significant, important, moving……

By , 20/09/2015
A significant, important and moving concert. Significant? - with two works by Douglas Lilburn included, the orchestra splendidly commemorated the composer's 100th birthday year. Important? - the concert included in the programme Lilburn's First Symphony, one that ought to be in our main-centre orchestras' regular concert repertoire, but is hardly ever played - see "Stop Press" below, however. Moving? - the concert was dedicated by the orchestra to the... read more

Popular for the best reason – the NZSO’s Classical Hits Concert

By , 19/09/2015
Appropriately enough from my point of view, this concert began with the very same music that enthralled me almost fifty years ago, at the beginning of my very first concert-going experience in Palmerston North's Opera House. I still recall, at the start of the "William Tell" Overture, the beauty of those two NZBC Symphony Orchestra solo 'cellos (played by Wilf Simenauer and Farquhar Wilkinson), and the thrill of the... read more

Going for it at St.Andrew’s – Te Kōkī Trio

By , 06/09/2015
This was a mighty concert experience - here were three musicians bent upon drawing all that they could out of the music and of themselves, resulting in performances of great excitement and intensity. The thrills and spills that inevitably came with such an approach simply added to the visceral nature of the experience, so that, at the end, we all felt we'd seen and heard something alive and real In... read more

Aural (and visual) feast from Stroma at the Wellington City Gallery

By , 30/08/2015
Contemporary music ensemble Stroma performed at the Wellington City Gallery, in a space flanked on three sides by images created by photographer Fiona Pardington, whose exhibition "A Beautiful Hesitation", brought an additional resonant and interactive context to the "sounded out" work of the composers. As the images suspended objects in time for us to register our thoughts and feelings about them, so too did the music seek to impinge... read more

Cathedrals and landscapes – delight and awe with the NZSO

By , 28/08/2015
Sibelius and Bruckner on the same programme? - bracing cocktails of icy spring water, followed by restorative draughts of schnapps, or, perhaps, aromatic coffee? (that is, to say, their musical equivalents!)……..an intriguing prospect, one that didn't arise the last time Simone Young was in New Zealand to conduct Bruckner with the NZSO. Paired with his mighty Fifth Symphony on that occasion was the music of Mozart, Bruckner's fellow-countryman. The... read more

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