Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

‘Does a cappella singing get better than this?’ – Wellington members of the New Zealand Youth Choir

It was gratifying to see the church nearly full for the thirteen members of the choir who sang an interesting and varied programme. Immediately they began, the choir had a wonderful, confident sound.  The opening item, ‘Resonet in laudibus’ was by Jacob Handl, a sixteenth century Slovenian composer also known as Gallus.  The pure sounds in this sympathetic acoustic made it hard to believe that there were so few performers ... read more

I Musici: highly accomplished performances of mainly light-weight music

I Musici is famed for its recordings, particularly a recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons made early in the group’s career, which helped to create the great popularity of these concertos. The musicians are aided by the fine instruments they play.  There was one Amati violin, two Guaneri, and a Storioni cello.  Most of the violins and the two violas were made in the seventeenth century; both cellos were from the... read more

New Zealand String Quartet revelatory with second group of Beethoven’s Opus 18

By , 26/02/2012
In her brief introductory comments at the first of these two concerts Gillian Ansell had observed how interesting it was to play the quartets in chronological order rather than to mix works from different periods: it highlighted the essential features of these works of the 30-year-old Beethoven, their originality, their imaginativeness, the clear mood contrasts between each. And so it was. Many listeners will have heard these quartets in sequence as... read more

Exhilarating first of two concerts of Beethoven’s Quartets Op 18

The New Zealand String Quartet will play all Beethoven’s string quartets this year, in chronological order – a major undertaking in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the quartet.  As Helene Pohl observes in one of several excellent programme notes, hearing them this way ‘we discover how full of personality these “early” quartets are!’ The Quartet’s fondness for St. Mary of the Angels as a venue was... read more

Stravinsky at the Festival: Distinguished performances of powerful works heard by too few

As a Festival opener, this programme obviously did not have the appeal of the Mahler Symphony no.8 performed at the last Festival, when the hall was packed, and there were people sitting out in Civic Square watching the performance on a huge screen and hearing it relayed on loudspeakers.  Another draw-card on that occasion was the presence of the famous Vladimir Ashkenazy as conductor. This time, by no means all... read more

Encore visit to counter-tenor Xiao Ma, with Stephen Diaz and Gao Ping (piano), at Te Papa

I attended this one-hour recital with a friend, with whom I had just had afternoon tea in the 4th floor café at Te Papa.  She insisted that we should queue for Xiao Ma at 3.30pm; in fact, we went earlier, and soon a huge queue built up.  The doors weren't opened until nearly 4pm, and people poured in till the theatre was absolutely full. Mere Boynton welcomed the audience and... read more

Splendid concert from the summer sessions of the National Youth Orchestra

Friday night’s splendid concert began with a work by a suitably youthful composer; Mendelssohn was 17 years old when he wrote the well-known music for Shakespeare’s play (well beloved of Radio New Zealand Concert).   It was good, too, to have youthful New Zealand-born conductor at the helm – even if sartorially, he did not match the orchestra members. This was a new venture, to bring together the Youth Orchestra in... read more

Exceptional recital from Chinese counter-tenor, Xiao Ma

Counter-tenors have come a long way since Alfred Deller revived the voice in the 1940s – not to demean that gentleman’s superb singing.  Xiao Ma’s voice is probably the most beautiful counter-tenor I have heard live – and I have heard some very good ones.  This voice has a bright, sweet tone, and is never strained.  It is well rounded, with huge variety.  There was a tendency at times... read more

Paul Rosoman at two organs in St Andrew’s on The Terrace

By , 15/02/2012
Paul Rosoman began his recital, the first for 2012, using the chamber organ located on the right of the sanctuary, an instrument which gives the church something of the character of European churches and cathedrals in which a smaller organ existed to accompany the choir. Few in the audience would have recognised any of the music and many would not have heard of half of the composers; that would... read more

Michael Houstoun’s musical journeyings at Waikanae

By , 12/02/2012
In her notes for the program composer Jenny McLeod pays a heartfelt tribute to the occasion and to those taking part, reserving special thanks for Michael Houstoun. Her words "a musician of such immense gifts, high reputation and tireless dedication" would have surely been echoed by those present at the recital, as we were able to sense in Houstoun's playing something of McLeod's "pleasure and privilege" in writing music... read more

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