Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

From The Night Watch – “Love Me Tender” – a Baroque-style celebration of love’s intangibility

This is a new ensemble in town, 'The Night Watch' (after the Rembrandt painting, though both the Martinborough and Wellington concerts were held in daylight hours).  This group is a combo of New Zealand singers and instrumentalists with several Australian baroque instrumentalists from Sydney. Despite the geography, there was no time separation here; the playing was magnificently co-ordinated and presented, under the direction of Catherine Mackintosh, a veteran of English ensembles The Orchestra of the... read more

Adam Chamber Music Festival in Nelson; the second installment, of Monday and Tuesday reviews

By , 05/02/2019
Perhaps the decision to celebrate the restoration of the organ in the Nelson School of Music took a slightly eccentric course, by programming some pieces by Mozart. For while Mozart is known to have enjoyed playing, especially improvising on, organs wherever he encountered them, he wrote scarcely anything specifically for the organ. The Andante in F, K 616, written a short time before he died, is the only music that... read more

Adam Chamber Music Festival in Nelson: the first days

By , 03/02/2019
This was the first festival for five years that has been able to move back to the now magnificently enhanced Nelson School of Music (now called the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts). That, as well as the line-up of many top international musicians, saw the early sell-out of all but one of the nine superb evening concerts. That’s attributable also to the festival’s international reputation, attracting many people from... read more

NZSO’s Telemann/Handel presentation at Wellington Cathedral – spectacle before music?

By , 01/02/2019
This was one of those concerts better described by the word “occasion” – yes, there was music, yes there were musicians, and yes, the music was played; but at every step of the way the emphasis of the event’s publicity, presentation and performance seemed to be more on the “occasional” nature of the pieces and their sounds rather than their actual substance. Historically, this wasn’t at all inappropriate considering the... read more

Bach Choir celebrates Saint Cecilia, exploring interesting and important music with flair and taste

By , 16/12/2018
This was a famous concert: not many musical organisations survive for fifty years. In Wellington, only the NZSO and the Orpheus Choir can claim that (and I await outraged contradictions); though it might be possible to add Chamber Music New Zealand, a very important music promoter, which began as a Wellington society in 1945 and spread its reach nationally within a few years. The Bach Choir has had a distinguished... read more

Camerata’s latest “Haydn in the Church” concert – joyous antiphonal splendours, heart-rending beauties and al fresco hi-jinks!

By , 13/12/2018
I couldn't remember when I'd last heard JS Bach’s Double Violin Concerto “live” when first posting this review – thanks to violinist Anne Loeser, who reminded me of a 2012 performance by the NZSO strings, I've had to sheepishly modify my previous "never before live" declaration; but, to my shame, it gets worse! - I actually reviewed the performance in Middle C! Oh, dear! - I'm dumbfounded as to... read more

Wellington Chamber Orchestra with rewarding and interesting music from Britain and Armenia

It was tempting to describe this as a concert of unfamiliar twentieth-century music, however the symphony was composed and first performed in the 1880s. An enthusiastic audience filled the church to hear this interesting programme, that began with the rather elusive, indefinite opening of the Finzi work.  This had once been intended to be part of a symphony, but it never eventuated, and after many years, the work was completed... read more

A finely-wrought, light-on-its-feet “Messiah” from Nicholas McGegan with The Tudor Consort and the NZSO

By , 08/12/2018
Just for interest’s sakes I hearkened back to my “Middle C” review of an earlier Messiah here in Wellington conducted by Nicholas McGegan with the NZSO three years previously, one which I hailed as a focused and characterful performance throughout. There was plenty to wax enthusiastic about on that occasion – McGegan’s very “visceral “ way with some of the music’s more pictorial evocations, such as the frisson of excitement he... read more

A triumphant culmination of Pinchgut Opera’s work in Sydney: Hasse’s Artaserse

By , 05/12/2018
Though exposure to pre-Mozart opera, even of Gluck, has been infrequent in New Zealand, a great deal of 17th and 18th century opera has become main-stream in the Northern Hemisphere. There is hardly a composer of that period, acclaimed in his (or her) lifetime and then forgotten for 200 years, whose music has not been brushed off in recent years and played in a way that echoes the way... read more

An “Enchanted Evening” from The Virtuoso Strings with Jonathan Lemalu

By , 03/12/2018
It had all the makings of a large and vital extended-family affair, with the usual concert rituals and parameters given a relaxed and informal spontaneity that readily brought musicians and audience together. I liked the buzz of excitement in both the foyer and the auditorium, one growing out of a sense of being in a friendly crowd and anticipating the delights to come! This was “Some Enchanted Evening”, a presentation... read more

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