Wonderful recital of French Christmas music from organist Dianne Halliday

Joyeux Noël: organ music for Christmas by French composers

Dianne Halliday

St. Peter’s Church, Willis Street

Friday, 21 December, 7pm

Dianne Halliday gave her audience a wonderful conspectus of French organ music for Christmas, mainly. but not exclusively, from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  It was a pity that the composers’ dates were not in the printed programme.  However, I was able to find all except one, in a variety of sources, but chiefly Wikipedia.

The opening piece was ‘Chant du Roi René’ from Les Livres de Noëls by Alexandre Guilmant, who lived from 1837 to 1911.  It was a lively, rhythmic piece based on traditional Noëls, featuring a full diapason choir, as a rousing opening to the recital.

In complete contrast were two Noëls by seventeenth century composer André Raison.  Here, soft reeds contrasted with flutes in the first piece, with a tremulant at the end, while the second featured a medieval-style melody.  Michel Corrette flourished from 1707 to 1795 – like all the other composers in the programme except one, he confirmed my observation that organists are a long-lived lot.  His Première Suite de Noëls consisted of four movements.  Among the four delightful pieces was ‘Une jeune pucelle’ (A young virgin), on flutes, and ‘Noël Provençale (tambourin)’, a polyphonic piece that introduced a stop that sounded like a Jew’s harp.

Clément Loret (Belgian-born, 1833-1909) followed; of his Six Noëls avec Variations Dianne Halliday played no.5, ‘Noël Arlesien’.  This was a delightfully inventive piece.  The title summed up what all the pieces on the programme were: variations on traditional Christmas songs and melodies.  Most had simple folk melodies which were then varied to great effect, both in the writing, and in the registrations used by Dianne Halliday.  Despite this and the range in dates of the composers, there was a certain sameness in the programme.  This one had many variations, and a great variety of registrations.  A simple melody was introduced sotto voce with the swell box closed, and then repeated with a 15th stop added at the top, then a louder rendition, then more flutes for the next, and yet more variations to follow, most without pedal parts.  Last of all was a variation played in what is probably the upper reach of human hearing – a 2-foot rank?

The next composer, Nicolas Lebègue, lived from 1631 to 1702.  Laissez paître vos bêtes (Leave grazing your animals) was based on the same melody as Bizet used for the Prelude in his first L’Arlesienne suite.  The variations included a second on quiet reeds (Vox Humana?), followed by a third on full diapason chorus.

The name Charpentier is a well-known one in French composition circles, though I could find no evidence that Jean-Jacques Beauvarlet-Charpentier was the relative of the two famous composers of that name.  His dates were 1734 to 1794.  The two of his Douze Noëls played: no.5, ‘Noël pour une Elévation’ and ‘Noël dans le Gout [manner] de la Symphonie Concertante’ were charming variations on two traditional Christmas songs.  The second melody was titled ‘Où s’en vont ces gais bergers?’; one could, perhaps, hear the shepherds’ clumsy movements in the abrasive reeds, and their pipes in the gentler flute tones.

Jean-François Dandrieu’s two pieces were enchanting; he flourished from 1682 to 1738.  Following his music, we had Jean Bouvard’s Noël Vosgien.  He was the only one of the featured composers for whom I could not find any information.  The piece employed some rather different tonalities, and like the other pieces in the programme, was most appealing.

‘Noël cette Journée’ from Douze Noëls by Louis-Claude D’Aquin (1694-1772) is a piece that I did know, having a recording of it on an LP made by my late revered organ teacher, Maxwell Fernie.  I have a memory of a hymn or carol in English on the Noël’s melody, but could not track it down in any of the relevant books I have.

André Fleury (1903-1995) was the composer of  Variations sur un Noël Bourguignon.  We heard one of the pieces: ‘Lo qu’en la saison qu’ai jaule’.  An interesting reed stop opened the music, then the melody was heard on the pedals with quiet accompaniment.  Louder variations followed in this extremely effective piece.

The penultimate piece was by the appropriately-named Ếmile Bourdon (1884-1974); a Noël by the 17th century Nicholas Saboly, ‘Lei
plus sage – Dòu vesinage’, [a Noël setting in the Langue d’Oc of the
south of France].  Finally, Quatre Noëls Op.26, by Charles Quef (1873-1931).  The first, ‘Noël Lorraine’ was the most contemporary-sounding piece in the programme.  It ended in a march.  ‘Noël Mâconnais’ utilised a modal melody that introduced chunky variations.  ‘Noël Breton’ was calm, with a positive mood, while ‘Noël Parisienne’ was a very bright and attractive piece, with a strong melody and a spirited finish.

What an amazing selection of Christmas organ music from France this was!  Dianne Halliday revealed a rich tapestry of music we seldom hear.  Nearly all had ‘Noël’ in the title.  I had never heard of the majority of the composers.  The playing was always beautifully articulated; registrations all had clarity and euphony; the organist exploiting the beauties of the organ to the full.  The recital was quite long, and a tour de force for the performer, to use an appropriately French phrase.



A great Messiah from the NZSO and Orpheus Choir

Messiah by Handel

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Orpheus Choir of Wellington, conducted by Graham Abbott

Soloists: Madeleine Pierard – soprano, Anna Pierard – mezzo-soprano, Simon O’Neill – tenor, Andrew Collis – bass

Michael Fowler Centre

Saturday 15 December, 6.30pm

There was a very near full house at the Michael Fowler Centre for this, now rather rare occasion. In earlier years the NZSO and the Orpheus Choir joined for the annual December performances every year or so, but for a while the tradition was broken. For many years it became common for the Orpheus Choir to take turns with other Wellington choirs to sing the oratorio.

This resumed relationship might have contributed to the big audience which generated the feeling of a festival; of a tradition re-established.

Things began very well with orchestral playing of great assurance in the Sinfonia. It was pared down to a ‘period’ size but made little attempt to produce the more pronounced characteristics of ‘period practice’. The playing was simply crisp, alive, vigorously rhythmic as well as supporting the expression of whatever emotion existed in the words.

If there was one characteristic that all four soloists shared, it was a strong dramatic instinct, not surprising from singers whose primary job is in the opera house. Simon O’Neill’s opening ‘Comfort ye’ and ‘Every Valley’ exhibited a feeling of calm, priestly and – well – comforting; his tenor voice has both a heroic intensity and a baritonal authority that supported his assurance that the rough places would be made plain.

The Chorus enters with its splendid air of religious certainty that the ‘glory of the Lord shall be revealed’. Here was a choir of well over 100 singers that had been rehearsed so well (Mark Dorrell) that they sang with clarity and exemplary ensemble, sounding like a 30-strong, specialist baroque choir, as well as a sense of excitement, involvement and plenty of volume.

Australian Bass Andrew Collis was new to me. His is the quintessential bass, fit for all the magisterial roles that demand moral fortitude and authority, and his first recitative, ‘Thus saith the Lord’, but even more his next outing with ‘The people that walked in darkness’, seemed to lend the performance as a whole, a feeling of absolute assurance and the kind of religious certainty that Handel’s audience expected. This was an old-fashioned oratorio that delivered musical delight, dramatic excitement, and a sturdy lesson in faith and morals.

Anna Pierard sang next; it was good to be reassured about her gifts having had little chance in her role as one of the Valkyries in the NZSO’s Die Walküre earlier in the year. In ‘But who may abide’ her low notes had all the warmth of the traditional mezzo as well as conveying the urgency and trepidation that the words demand. And her voice revealed itself high and bright when called for as she sang ‘when he appeareth’, with decorous ornamentation.

The alto part gets a lot of exposure in Part I and Anna’s next recitative, ‘Behold a virgin’ and the aria, ‘O thou that tellest good tidings’, reflected beautifully the tone of optimism that Isaiah’s words convey, though her ‘Behold your God’ might have been uttered with greater magniloquence. Later, however, she sang her aria ‘He was despised’ as if the grief was her own, plangent and moving, her ‘…from shame and spitting’, underpinned by the bassoon.

The various sections of chorus showed their distinct colours in the next choral number, ‘And he shall purify’, as sopranos began and others followed in fugal fashion; and they captured the sense of the next triple time chorus with the words ‘behold the glory of the Lord is risen’ with almost thrilling exuberance.  One of the most famous choruses, ‘For unto us a child is born’, which for me was implanted (along with the anguished ‘Surely, he hath born our griefs’ in Part II, and much other essential musical furniture) at Wellington College’s annual concerts in the Town Hall around 1950; the words ‘Wonderful, Counsellor’, almost shouted, were alive with its clarity, joyousness and speed. For speed was a distinct characteristic of Abbott’s direction, and a reason why the performance was not too long in spite of doing the work entire rather than with the more usual cuts.

After the Pastoral Sinfonia, known as Pifa, that sets the scene for ‘There were shepherds’, comes the soprano’s first entry, and Madeleine Pierard filled her voice with a sunny arcadian spirit, beautifully supported by the orchestra that matched her air of excitement, with its variety and delicacy of string playing. After a short choral interjection – ‘Glory to God in the highest’ – she resumes in ‘Rejoice greatly’ with brightness, expressive movement, and colouring her voice enchantingly.

And it was this spirit, shared by all four soloists, of immediacy, of engagement and the dramatising of the events and prophesies in the Biblical texts that gripped the audience as if at the opera.

This performance departed from the usual practice of taking the intermission half way through Part II by breaking at the end of Part I.  The pair of choruses, ‘Surely…’ and ‘All we like sheep…’, were high points, though the levity with which the music treats the latter is always a surprise.

Grief also permeates the tenor’s next numbers, and O’Neill’s spitting out of the words in ‘Thy rebuke hath broken his heart’ and the intensity of his top notes as he sang ‘But there was no man’ were again of operatic force. Madeleine Pierard, bass Andrew Collis and O’Neill sang, respectively, highlights like ‘How beautiful are the feet’ and ‘Why do the nations?’ and Thou shalt break them’ with superb understanding, capturing their dramatic function wonderfully.

Several later numbers of Part II are among those often cut, but here their energetic and committed performance ensured their value was fully realised. The Alleluia chorus is always a high-point and the odd tradition of standing was adhered to though, strangely, by no means all stood during the prolonged ovation at the end, where such a gesture was actually deserved.

And the succession of indelible numbers continued almost unfalteringly, with the orchestra and chorus delivering flawless performances to support Madeleine’s rapturous ‘I know that my redeemer liveth’, the revelatory chorus ‘Since by man came death’ with its sudden burst of joy, and the great bass recitative ‘Behold I tell you a mystery’ and aria ‘The trumpet shall sound’ where it did indeed do that.

Then as the end approached, the only duet in the work, ‘O death where is thy sting’ – alto and tenor answering it by their demonstrative vocal gestures, though not a perfect balance; another soprano solo ‘If God be for us’, a fine display of finesse, attention to sense and careful delivery; and ‘Worthy is the lamb’, a sort of wonderful prelude to the final fugal Amen chorus.

They may have been previous performances that approached this one, but I doubt there has been a better in this town. The audience proved that by long applause with more than half standing.





Penultimate lunchtime concert at St Andrew’s: delightful cello and piano programme

Schumann: Fantasy pieces, Op. 73
Barbara Heller: Lalai, lullaby to awaken you
De Falla: Suite Populaire Espagnole
Janáček:  A Leaf Blown Away
Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances
Arnold Trowell: Caprice Op.20 no.6

Robert Ibell (cello), Catherine McKay (piano)

St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Wednesday, 12 December 2012, 12.15pm

The pieces by Schumann that opened this programme are quite well-known.    A beautiful singing tone from the cello received sensitive accompaniment on the piano, with subtle variation of tone and touch.  The playing was of an appropriately romantic character on both instruments, full of expression and beautifully articulated, every note having a chance to speak.  The renditions followed the titles of the pieces, which in English are ‘Tender with expression’; ‘Lively, light’; ‘Quick and with fire’.

Originally written for clarinet and piano, they were arranged by the composer for cello and piano.  They received an exemplary performance.

At this point Robert Ibell spoke to the audience, briefly but very clearly introducing the varied programme, much of which consisted of arrangements, but some were of these arrangements were by their composers.

Next came a contemporary composition by a German composer.  The song on which it was based was a resistance song from Iran in the Shah’s era, and was written to commemorate women persecuted in that era, and then murdered by the subsequent hard-line Moslem regime.  Robert Ibell showed passion in rendering the simple opening melody, and then the strong, highly rhythmic chords and discords that followed, while the pianist plucked very low strings on the piano.

In the third part, the pianist both played and plucked the strings, without the cello, and finally both instruments played what was largely, but not exactly, a repeat of the first section.  The emotion of the piece was not, in the main, worn on the sleeve, but built up subtly through unusual figures and rhythms.

De Falla’s lively suite is well-known in his original sung version from which this one was arranged.  I must admit that I find such arrangements to be lesser creations; the music of songs is inspired by the words of poems, and not to have the latter takes away the relationship to the meaning and essential expression of the songs, not to mention the particular cadences and timbres of the Spanish language, in this case.  Nevertheless, this was very eloquent and articulate playing, and the performance displayed de Falla’s great gifts as a composer.

The opening song (giving them their English titles) was ‘The Moorish Cloth’; it was lively, with lots of pizzicato, but could not convey the irony of the original words.  It was followed by ‘Lullaby’, a beautifully gentle contrast to the previous song (no.5 in my recording of the songs), simple in its expression.  ‘Song’ (no.6 in the original sequence) was spirited and gentle by turns, and is perhaps my favourite.  Its lilting rhythm was almost soporific.

‘Jota’, an Aragon-inspired piece, featured delightful cross-rhythms and strumming contrasted with smooth passages; the story of a lover whose mother disapproves of the relationship.  It was quite gorgeous, and exploited the cello’s versatility between singing and percussive effects.

‘Asturian Song’  is a thoughtful, slow lament, originally placed before the ‘Jota’.  It’s quiet and pensive music was most effective.  Finally, the rumbustious ‘Polo’ had much hard work for the piano to do – in fact it was demanding for both musicians, and gave a vivacious ending to the suite.

Janáček, along wih his fellow countryman Dvořák, wrote for the now-despised harmonium: the ordinary family’s instrument that was smaller and probably cheaper than the piano and therefore popular in homes.  One could pretend to be playing a pipe organ, but for the wheezy tone!  Things have gone full circle; I recall hearing a Dvořák composition recently where the harmonium part was played on chamber pipe organ!  This composition, ‘A Leaf Blown Away’,  translated well to the cello and piano.  It was a soulful and telling piece.

Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances are well-known and popular, both in the original piano setting and in the composer’s orchestrations.  The cello and piano arrangement was by Luigi de Silva.  After the opening ‘Stick Dance’ came ‘Sash Dance’ and ‘In One Spot’; two difficult and high-pitched pieces, requiring the cellist to alternate between playing the strings normally, and playing harmonics.  The effect was delightful, as indeed was the whole performance.  After ‘Horn Dance’ and ‘Romanian Polka’ came ‘Fast Dance’, robust with pizzicato and bowing alternating, and a dynamic piano part.

The final piece was by Arnold Trowell, who gives the lie to the oft-repeated statement that Douglas Lilburn was our first serious composer – though some will allow Alfred Hill a look-in, even though he spent the greater part of his productive life in Australia.  This was no fledgling piece, being part of Trowell’s Opus 20.  It must be admitted that the composer spent most of his life in England from the age of 16, and that he is perhaps better known as a friend of Katherine Mansfield, his brother Garnet being perhaps more than a friend.

Trowell was a professor of cello at two London music colleges, and wrote a lot of music for cello and piano.  This was a very competent piece, featuring light and shade, somewhat Elgarian, but lively and tuneful, and very fast.

After the concert, an elderly friend said to me “How can he make the cello sound like a whole orchestra?”   Answer: with the vivid, technically assured playing of both Robert Ibell and his accompanist Catherine McKay, he can.  It is worth noting that Robert Ibell is probably the only NZSO member who regularly plays in these lunchtime concerts, for which there are no artists’ fees.  As the concert organiser, Marjan van Waardenberg said in a recent email “All the artists… participate feelessly in this series.”


Start of a diverting Cello(phonia) tradition at the New Zealand School of Music

Cellophonia II: New Zealand School of Music

Music for cello ensembles: by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, J Strauss II, Bach, Farr

Cellists: Inbal Megiddo (NZSM lecturer in cello), Andrew Joyce, Ashley Brown, Eliah Sakakushev; students of the NZSM and the Young Musicians’ Programme; players from Wellington orchestras

Hunter Council Chamber, Victoria University

Sunday 9 December, 7.30pm

Last year’s festival for cellists at the New Zealand School of Music was a very popular occasion, and it encouraged Inbal Megiddo, cello lecturer at the school,  and other leading cellists, to stage a repeat. It involves cello tuition, masterclasses and ensemble performance and a cello scholarship, consisting of $1000 plus the use of a Thomas Kennedy cello (c. 1813) for a year.
Professor Shmuel Magan of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance participated during the week, as a tutor.

There were one or two changes from last year in the ranks of professional cellists taking part and a considerable increase in the number of students, and players from amateur orchestras such as the Wellington and the Kapiti chamber orchestras; 29 in all.

An arrangement of Mozart’s overture to The Marriage of Figaro opened the concert, involving 12 players evidently playing seven parts. While it sounded an almost entirely different piece without woodwinds and brass, the variety of tone that could be captured was very interesting, particularly the sounds high on the A string.

Perhaps the most impressive piece on the programme was the arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, which acts as a major member of the cello concerto repertoire both because of its intrinsic musical quality and the heroic demands placed on the solo cellist.

In this case the solo role was passed from one of the principal cellists to another; that was in itself entertaining, but the experience of seeing and hearing it at close, chamber music, quarters highlighted the impact of the virtuosic terrors that it presents. It fell to Andrew Joyce to play some of the most spectacular variations.  As each variation exhibits different performance characteristics, the handling of particular sections by each cellist tended to illuminate these differences most divertingly.  Though focus might have been on the soloists, the accompaniment too exposed the bones of Tchaikovsky’s writing, not quite as interesting as when clothed in the colours of a full orchestra.

The first half ended with a Blue Danube Waltz: think I’ll stick with the version left to us by J Strauss Junior.

After the interval the full ensemble – 29 – emerged to play mainly lolly-pops. The non-lolly-pops were the 6th Brandenburg Concerto and Gareth Farr’s Ascent. The latter, led by Auckland Philharmonia principal cellist Eliah Sakakushev, is a piece written for cello ensemble, in a fairly conventional idiom, but exhibiting attractive musical ideas that seemed to emerge from a composer who was constantly alive to the sounds of the instruments as he wrote the notes on his manuscript (speaking loosely in the age of ‘Sibelius’). It was a delightful piece in its own right.

In contrast, and surprisingly for me, the 6th Brandenburg, though written for strings without violins and which I had imagined would be an easy convert to a wholly cello environment, disappointed. It began with a satisfying crunch, and the perpetuum mobile rhythm of the first movement sustained interest. But the leading melody in the second movement seemed earth-bound, it didn’t fly. And in the third movement I concluded sadly that though cellos are near neighbours to violas, the sounds they produced were simply not very beguiling, while the sounds of the original hovered in my head.

On the other hand, Bach’s Air on the G string (the second movement from his third orchestral suite) worked very well, never needing to be played in a range that was too remote from the limits of the original. The players changed their places from one piece to the next, presumably to give the students and amateur players a good range of experience; in the Bach the leading cellists each shared a desk with one of the students.

Finally, the big ensemble played the brief Trepak from The Nutcracker ballet, another piece that might have seemed a very improbable candidate for this treatment. Though it’s one of the classical pops that has long been on my ‘best avoid’ list, it was kind-of fun.



A world in a grain of sand – Pepe Becker and Stephen Pickett at Futuna



15th, 16th, and17th Century Songs of love and life,

from Italy, England, France and Spain

Pepe Becker (soprano)

Stephen Pickett (lute and chitarrino)

Futuna Chapel , Friend Street, Karori

Sunday 9th December 2012

All that was needed for perfection to be had in this concert was a more substantial audience – but for one reason or another, people stayed away. Perhaps it was the weather – when Wellington turns on a beautiful day, it’s a place to be out and about like no other, and the prospect of an indoor concert, however felicitous, becomes proportionally less inviting. Still, it was an event whose qualities led one to recall those reproving words from Henry V – “and Gentlemen of England now abed / shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here….”

True, there’s been a superabundance of great concerts in the Wellington region throughout the year, and faced with the delights of such weather, many otherwise committed concert-goers could well have reflected upon cups that “runneth over” and chosen something different this time round. But the much bandied-about “arts capital” epithet which Wellingtonians are certainly proud to own by dint of location did receive a dent, or at least a paintwork scratch in this case, in my opinion. Whatever may have been the alternatives, world-class performances such as what we handful of audience members present heard from Pepe Becker and Stephen Pickett deserved better support than this.

This was my second visit to Futuna Chapel for a concert of recent times, and the venue again worked its unique magic, helping to impart a timeless feeling to the musicians’ explorations of music from distant times and places, and bringing the sounds triumphantly to life for our twenty-first century ears. The acoustic and general ambience admirably suited Pepe Becker’s voice and Stephen Pickett’s accompaniments, catching all of us present up in the music’s world and allowing its full force and flavour, thanks in equal measure to the skills of these performers.

The concert began with a short instrumental solo played on the lute by Stephen Pickett, a Ricercar by Joan Ambrosio Dalza, whose was a composer-name new to me – the work was published in 1508, which goes some of the way towards explaining my ignorance. From this uncommonly elegant beginning we moved to the first song, by Antonio Caprioli, Quella Bella e Bianco Mano (“That fair white hand”), in which love is depicted as both a wounding and a healing experience – beautifully performed.

Pepe Becker welcomed us graciously to the concert, expressing pleasure and gratitude at our attendance (for our part, as an audience, I think we felt embarrassed at our lack of real numbers, but both musicians quickly put us at our ease!). In fact, we were treated like kings and queens throughout, with song following beautiful song as if in some kind of “dream-ritual”. Especially evocative was this first “Mediterranean” bracket, with the soft, musical Hispanic word-sounds in particular adding to the general romantic effect – the last two songs of the group presented different aspects of the Spanish character, the first, by Miguel de Fuenliana, Passevase ei rey moro, a lament for the “Alhambra” in Granada, declamatory and serious in intent; and the second energetic and celebratory, Juan Encina’s dance-like Hoy comamos y bebamos, (“Today we eat and drink”), a roistering song complete with clapping and dance movements.

Stephen Pickett changed from the guitar to the lute for the bracket of English songs, introduced by a piece for solo lute Go from My Window, and followed by John Dowland’s Flow My Tears, with Pepe Becker opening the vocal throttle and suffusing the ambience with glorious resonant tones. If the singer paid rather less attention to word-pointing and more to a sense of  flooding the listeners’ sensibilities with sorrowful sounds, the latter carried the day triumphantly. Robert Johnson’s Hark, hark ,the Lark was also splendidly delivered, with a trio of lovely bird-like ascents to the tops of the phrases, each better than the last. A stratospheric Willow Song from the Dallis Lute Book of 1583 completed the bracket in beautifully bell-like style.

“Charlatans and Mountebanks” was the intriguing title of the next bracket (courtesy of a description (1619) by Michael Praetorius of music made by comedians and clowns), beginning with a solo by Stephen Pickett on the guitar-like chitarrino, and then plunging us into the no-emotional-holds-barred world of Barbara Strozzi, with the singer declaiming wonderfully melismatic lines high and low, stressing different rhythm-points in a way that created occasional mini-tensions, all to a passacaglia-like accompaniment – like much of this fascinating composer-performer’s music, the lines wept, raged and just as quickly dissolved once again. An instrumental Fantasia terza by Melchior Barberiis nicely effected a contrast with the following dance-song, Amor ch’attendi by Giulio Caccini, the singer augmenting the music’s energy and colour with a drum.

With Music for a While by Henry Purcell the musicians concluded eponymously both the final bracket of items and the entire concert, a section which featured as well works for voice by Merula, Monteverdi and Strozzi (again). Some of these were the most overtly expressive of the afternoon, Tarquinio Merula’s Canzonetta sopra la nanna for one, an extraordinarily doom-laden and fate-ridden lament by a mother made over a sleeping child, to an insistently “sighing” lute accompaniment, singing and playing which I found riveting in its intensity. Another was Claudio Monteverdi’s Ohimè, ch’io cado, energetic and volatile, with Pepe Becker demonstrating an exhilarating combination of force and focus over a wide-ranging terrain of emotion. The third of the “trio of intensity” was Barbara Strozzi’s somewhat suggestively-titled L’eraclito Amoroso, a conceit for despairing lovers, with different rhythmic trajectories underlining the spontaneity of thought and impulse, and words like “piangere” brought out and beautifully coloured by the singer. Altogether, a real “tour de force” of vocal expression from Pepe Becker, alternating beautifully “held” lines, with passionately delivered recitative, and holding us in thrall throughout.

As well that Purcell came to the rescue of our somewhat tenderized sensibilities at the very end – here was emotion cleansed of all excess, and rarefied as a pure stream of melody. No wonder he was so esteemed by his contemporaries – his setting of Dryden’s and Nathaniel Lee’s words, presented here by singer and player, persuaded we listeners that , indeed, “beauty is truth, truth, beauty…” and seemed to soothe for a brief time in our lives the sea of the world’s troubles.






Turning over a Blue Leaf – Adam Page and Stroma

STROMA with Adam Page  – BLUE PAGE

Adam Page (saxophones and looping)

David Bremner (trombone)

Mark Carter (conductor)


Downstage, Wellington

Sunday 9th December, 2012

This concert put me in mind of a review I once read of a performance given by the great 19th Century pianist/composer Anton Rubinstein, while on tour in the United States, the writer turning to a kind of “vernacular” in order to be able to express the wildness of exhilaration that had seized him when confronted with such music-making –

“….the house trembled, the lights danced, the walls shuck, the sky split, the ground rocked – heavens and earth, creation, sweet potatoes, Moses, ninepences, glory, tenpenny nails, Sampson in a ‘simmon tree – Bang!!!……I knowed no more that evening!….”

The concert was billed as “New Zealand s largest chamber ensemble meets New Zealand’s greatest multi-instrumentalist”.  Even though he’s Australian-born saxophonist extraordinaire Adam Page can call himself a Kiwi (or anything else he likes), just as long as he keeps his voyage of spontaneous and interactive discovery as fresh, intriguing and even as dangerous as he did with the Stroma musicians at Downstage Theatre.

Though the concert’s apex-point was Adam Page’s Space, Time and a new pair of shoes,  a work featuring this multi-talented musician’s technique of looping his own and accompanying musicians’ live improvisations into a continually enriched texture of accumulated musical impulses,  the concert featured as well works by Jack Body, Michael Norris and Jacob ter Veldhuis, all taking their starting-point as the tradition of the Blues.

Jack Body’s work Tribute to the Blues began this exploration, a work in four sections. It began with “Big Joe’s Moan” lovely, lazily loping accordion sounds, joined by various other instruments,  playing homage to jazz legend Big Joe Turner by way of setting long and lyrical lines,  over the top of an almost pointillistic soundscape, flecks and single brushstrokes of sound and colour. The following “Penitentiary Blues”,  realized by the New Orleans-based group Tangle Eye, had a sombre and definite “Singing Detective” ambience about its textures, one trying, it seemed, to ”lighten up” and escape the claustrophobia of both form and context.

John Lee’s Pluck came to the rescue, marimba and piano creating a gorgeous “carpet” with string pizzicato joining a sympatico marimba and piano, and finger-clicking from the musicians keeping the faith, as it were, in the spirit of John Lee Hooker. Contrast, if needed was afforded by “Chain-gang Chants”, with heavy bass-dragging beat underpinning a roaring sax and trombone. The lamenting winds and strings  seemed to speak for the human spirit, the roaring brass underpinning the oppression.

Finally, Mary Lou’s Dream (homage to another jazz giant, Mary Lou Williams, pianist composer and educator) presented a kind of “blues fantasia”, with cool, walking-pace rhythms leading the ear into a kind of twilight zone of eerie wind chordings and tremolando strings, until the blues gestures begin to coalesce, building up to great roulades of expression, before expiring with a muttered cadence.

Michael Norris’s Heart across night followed on from a film clip of Theolonius Monk playing his classic Straight, No Chaser, the trio of musicians responding at first with primordial sound-impulses, a muted trombone (David Bremner), rumbling double-bass (Alexander Gunchenko) and quietly scintillating percussion (Lenny Sakofsky), all kept pulsing together by the beat of Mark Carter. The composer’s own poetry was printed as a kind of word-map “paraphrase” of Monk’s piece giving us clues as to his specific visions – thus the irruption of energies could be interpreted as “hot tears crashing”, to all of which the electric double bass seemed to choreograph a kind of “danse macabre” very much on the surface.

“No rest” cautioned the poem, so that even the twilight-zone evocations contained bursts of activity responses to disturbances and terrors within. I found a kind of  perverse joy in David Bremner’s muted trombone, a lovely sound, the instrument later reverting to its full-throated voice. with Stravinsky/Firebird-like glissandi sliding like a board-rider on a molten surface of percussion-driven activity – the climactic “that’s her” getting a volcanic, exciting response from all the players.

The final two items were dominated by Adam Page’s incredible playing, firstly Jacob ter Veldhuis’s Grab It! for tenor saxophone and audio tape, the latter containing samplings from a documentary film of death row prisoners’ aggressive verbalisings. The saxophonist played a series of high-powered synchronisations  mirroring the energy of the constantly-recycled words. The whole scenario was an amazing assault on one’s sensibilities, though the combination of images, music and words drew one into the matrix of anger and despair evinced by the presentation’s various elements – a haunting, life-shaking experience.

Lastly, we got Adam Page’s own Space, Time and a new pair of shoes, a work whose improvisatory spirit created a Baroque-like panoply of melodic and rhythmic explorations processed and shared by Page himself and the whole ensemble in tandem with a looping recorder machine. The technique enabled the musicians’ contributions to and variants of the bluesy opening material to be added to the sound-picture via the recorder-machine, whose agglomerations gradually built up to near-epic proportions. Page commented in his programme notes that he had never used so many musicians when previously presenting this work live, and was thus looking forward to the “unknown” aspect this circumstance would create.

The effect was exhilarating, transporting – a total knockout! – not quite shades of “I knowed no more that evening” but instead, a kind of flabbergasted audience babbling in response, something which, had it also been recorded and “looped”, Adam Page himself would have presumably delighted in augmenting with the excitement of his own visceral, heart-on-sleeve intensifications.  And that would have been yet another work, and it would have been even harder to tear oneself away – as it stood, from Stroma it was no less than a feast of musical discovery, with Adam Page as the inspirational “lead-from-the-front” guide.








Freddy Kempf’s Gershwin with the NZSO – poet-pianist with a brilliant orchestra


GERSHWIN – Second Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra / BERNSTEIN – Prelude, Fugue and Riffs

GERSHWIN – I Got Rhythm Variations / An American in Paris / SHOSTAKOVICH – Tahiti Trot

GERSHWIN  – Rhapsody in Blue (orch. Grofe)

Freddy Kempf (piano)

Matthew Coorey (conductor)

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington

Friday, 7th December, 2012

A splendid program, expertly delivered, with the qualification that, to my mind pianist Freddy Kempf’s playing was notable more for poetry and introspection than glint and incisiveness, particularly in the “Rhapsody in Blue”. There were places where I wanted the piano to assert itself to a greater, somewhat brasher extent, particularly as the orchestra, under the energetic direction of Australian conductor Matthew Coorey, was “playing-out” in the best American style.

As with the players’ response a couple of months ago to Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s direction of Bernstein’s West Side Story Dances, here was a kind of untramelled spirit unleashed which took to the music with a will and realized much of its essential energetic joie de vivre. This came across most consistently throughout a vividly-projected rendition of An American in Paris – I wanted the motor horns at the beginning to “honk” more stridently, though it became obvious as the performance unfolded that the conductor was purposely “terracing” the score’s more overtly vulgar aspects to telling overall effect.

It seemed to me that any orchestra that could whole-heartedly “swing” certain music along in such a way that the NZSO players could and did on this occasion (as happened also with the Bernstein work I’ve mentioned) would be capable of bringing those same energetic, colourful and expressive qualities to any music it cared to play. Under Matthew Coory’s direction, the music’s story of the homesick traveller struggling to regain his emotional equilibrium in a foreign land, and eventually making the connections he needed, was here, by turns, excitingly and touchingly recounted, enabling the work to “tell” as the masterpiece it is.

Of course the brass has to carry much of the music’s character via plenty of on-the-spot ensemble work and virtuoso individual playing – and the solos delivered by people such as trumpeter Michael Kirgan delivered spadefuls of brilliance and feeling (even the one or two mis-hit notes had plenty of style and élan!). Not to be completely overshadowed, both winds and strings contributed soulful solo and concerted passages, balancing the blues with the brashness of some of the energies, though horns, saxophone and even the tuba also had episodes whose sounds tugged at the heartstrings.

What was caught seemed to me to be the “rhythm of the times”, putting me in mind of memories of watching some of those 1930s American films with their amazing song-and-dance sequences. Obviously this spirit had world-wide repercussions, as evidenced by Shostakovich’s contribution to the evening’s entertainment, via his Tahiti Trot, which was nothing less than a thinly disguised orchestral setting of Vincent Youman’s Broadway hit Tea for Two, completed by the composer in 1928.

Where Shostakovich’s work delighted with the wit and delicacy of its setting, Leonard Bernstein’s raunchy Prelude Fugue and Riffs from over twenty years later pinned the ears back with its percussion-driven brass declamations at the outset, irruptions alternating with echoes, and its in-your-face burleske-like gestures. It was all by way of preparing for a jazzy fugue whose peregrinations seemed to follow its own rules of expression, before returning to the all-out burlesque posturing and an ensuing “riff” whose manic energy threatened to sweep away the whole ensemble. It was the solo clarinet which finally called a halt with a single note. Again, I felt awed at the energies released by these normally straight-laced, classically-disciplined musicians, all of whom were suddenly demonstrated impressive “crossover”-like skills, and producing performances that to my ears sounded and felt creditably idiomatic.

A few further words about the concertante Gershwin items – the most interesting, by dint of being the least familiar, was the Second Rhapsody, first played in 1931, seven years after the original Rhapsody in Blue was first performed. Originally written as part of a film score, Gershwin set out to portray the bustling, concrete-jungle character of a big city (specifically New York), with a particular emphasis on the city’s upward-thrusting building activities, leading to the film-sequence being dubbed originally “Rhapsody of Rivets”. Gershwin’s later expansion of the score as a concert-piece retained the original music’s energy and rhythmic drive, but added and developed a contrasting lyrical character in places. The result was a work which its composer described as “in many respects….the best thing I’ve ever written”.

Freddy Kempf’s performance again delivered the more soulful moments of the score with plenty of heart-on-sleeve feeling, and he seemed here more into the “swing” of the energetic moments – also, his concertante approach seemed to me to suit this more sophisticated work better than with the first Rhapsody’s more “blue-and-white” character. While not as richly-endowed with memorable themes, this later work has a much more “interactive” spirit between soloist and orchestra, more like the later Concerto in F, the tension of the exchanges towards the end here magnificently terraced. I particularly enjoyed the chromatic, Messiaen-like orchestral lurches leading up to the final “all-together” payoff.

The I Got Rhythm Variations, perhaps the most lighthearted of the three, made a sparkling mid-concert makeweight, Kempf’s deft touch and whirlwind tempi for his solos reminiscent of Gershwin’s own, very unsentimental playing-style preserved on a few recordings. Again the orchestral playing under Matthew Coorey’s direction sounded right inside the music, by turns pushing, coaxing and simply letting it out there. How wonderful to have an orchestra in Wellington which can “swing it” just as whole-heartedly as it can deftly turn a Haydn or Mozart phrase, or rattle the rafters with a Brucknerian or Wagnerian climax. Well done, pianist, players and conductor, for giving us such a great concert.

Talented piano duettists combine wit and virtuosity for St Andrew’s audience

Nicole Chao and Beth Chen (piano duettists)

Souvenirs de Bayreuth (Massenet and Fauré)
Preludes Op 23, Nos 4, 5 and 6 (Rachmaninov) – played by Beth Chen
Mephisto Waltz No 1 (Liszt) – played by Nicole Chao
La belle excentrique (Satie)

St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Wednesday 5 December, 12.15pm

These two pianists, born in Taiwan, gained their master’s degrees at Victoria University, and have studied elsewhere. They have returned to Wellington with a host of awards and prizes in their brief-cases.  They have both become highly polished players who have recently joined forces to play piano duets, and duos, no doubt, which they do with a unanimity of feeling and technical mastery that is not usually acquired in so short a time.

Their programme combined a couple of satirical duets with solo pieces from the normal, yet highly demanding, repertoire.

Messager and Fauré put together as set of five pieces drawn from Wagner: ‘Fantasy in the form of a quadrille on themes from Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen’. Unlike certain French (and other) composers, the two friends – teacher and pupil – were enraptured by Wagner’s operas and had seen them in Munich, Cologne, Bayreuth and London.

We were offered no hint as to the respective contributions by the two composers (Messager wrote many operas and operettas, the still popular ballet Les deux pigeons, and conducted the first performance of Pelléas et Mélisande).

The first piece opened with loud chords and continued its brief course in dramatic fashion. The character of the quadrille varied from piece to piece, all danceable no doubt, but more likely to raise smiles; but more likely to raise smiles for the intention was to send up a few of the Leitmotive in a genial, light-hearted way.

Beth Chen played three of the preludes from Rachmaninov’s Op 23 set; hints of sentimentality were to be heard in No 4, but what kept the piece alive especially was the way the sounds produced by the two hands were kept so distinct in their colour and mood, yet created such  a perfect vocal blend.

No 5, in G minor, is the second best-known of the preludes; she played its slightly non-bellicose march carefully, which lent a greater force to the climactic phases. No 6 is rhapsodic in character and Chen gave it a relaxed though scrupulous performance, with sensitively placed rubato; again the two hands took up sharply contrasting roles – bright chords in the right hard, the left playing legato arpeggios. These were highly accomplished and authoritative performances.

Then it was Nicole Chao’s turn, with the first Mephisto Waltz, and it was brilliant: the sinister excitement of the first heavy chords, the dangerous, galloping rhythms; the scarlet and black colours of a medieval Satan in the hair-raising rushes of chromatic scales, and then the sudden beguiling calm.  Her playing was a dazzling display of speed, agility and clarity, getting to the heart of Liszt.

The pair returned then to offer another facet of late 19th century French wit, whose musical model was Satie. La belle excentrique [oui, il s’écrite comme ça] describes four characteristics or behaviours of a type of woman only to be found among the French. The Moon March, for example, suggested someone coping with the low gravity that exists on the moon or possibly with three too many drinks. The High Society Cancan with its scraps of tunes that interrupt each other, toy playfully with the spirit of Offenbach. The performances were a splendid substitute for a liquid lunch.

These two pianists await, though I doubt whether they do consciously, an invitation to join Chamber Music New Zealand’s nationwide concert series or even as duet or duo pianists, in the tradition of the Labèque sisters, in Bach, Mozart, Dussek or Poulenc, with the Wellington Orchestra or the NZSO.


Rutter’s Magnificat given impressive treatment by Wellington’s Capital Choir

Capital Choir – Magnificat by John Rutter
Plus carols, traditional songs, organ pieces by Dubois and Guilmant, and a Telemann flute sonata

Conductor: Felicia Edgecombe; organ: Janet Gibbs; piano – Robyn Jaquiery; flutes: Elizabeth Langham and Megan Brownlie; Soprano soloist Belinda Maclean

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Hill Street

Sunday 2 December, 4pm

This concert was in part a fund-raiser by an unauditioned choir, to mark Christmas and the end of the year. It was brave to have tackled a fairly sophisticated contemporary work, though not written in an avant-garde style which an amateur choir would have difficulty making musical sense of. Nevertheless, there were challenges in Rutter’s rhythms and harmony, in control of dynamics and other interpretive aspects that would have demanded a great deal of rehearsal.

But to start at the beginning: the first half was devoted to carols and a couple of other pieces. One of the latter was the droll setting of Little Jack Horner, sung as a round, in crisp accents. Its origin was not revealed; I have a feeling Philip Norman wrote it. A number of carols followed: Rutter’s Shepherd’s Pipe Carol involving a delightful flute obbligato from Elizabeth Langham; Silent Night with soloists Belinda Maclean, Susan Hamilton and Sally Chapman, all drawn from the choir; the lovely Poverty Carol, a touching, traditional Welsh carol; Sweet Little Jesus Boy which involved a splendid introductory solo by bass Rhys Cocker; and finally O Little Town of Bethlehem in the charming traditional setting, again with Cocker as soloist.

A song setting arranged in mock-bluesy style by Bob Chilcott, The Gift, was too saccharine for my taste.

In between, organist Janet Gibbs whose accompaniments had been heard for some of the pieces, played music by French 19th century organ composers Dubois (Chant pastoral) and Guilmant (Invocation); and flutists Elizabeth Langham and Megan Brownlie played a flute sonata by Telemann. Other accompaniments were imaginatively supported by pianist Robyn Jaquiery.

The Magnificat is one of the earliest Christian hymns to Mary and has been set by scores of composers. It has been traditional to introduce other material into the work and Rutter follows that example, principally with his setting of the anonymous 15th century poem Of a rose, a lovely rose which provides an opportunity for contrasting musical emotions and characters, mostly reflecting the joyous and optimistic interpretation that Rutter invests the central Latin text with. A part of the Sanctus from the Latin Mass is found in the Quia fecit mihi magna, and an entire epilogue section, Gloria Patri and Sancta Maria, after the Esurientes.

There are passages, for example in the first section, Magnificat anima mea, quoting a Gregorian chant and again in the final Sancta Maria. Soprano soloist, Belinda Maclean, gave the Et misericordia – the words repeated several times to the enchanting melody – a distinct secular quality. Her later solo passages, in the Esurientes and Sancta Maria, were further chances to enjoy her vocal gifts.

While Rutter’s Magnificat has an interesting orchestral accompaniment, Janet Gibbs on the Cathedral’s main organ fulfilled the role with a keen sensitivity to the colours and instrumental indications in the score.

An amateur performance this might have been, but the results of dedicated work by Felicia Edgecombe, her choir and soloists, and instrumental collaborators gave this attractive and rewarding choral work a highly impressive and satisfying exposure.


Worlds Old and New, from the Wellington Chamber Orchestra


PRUDEN – Westland: A Back-Country Overture

MENDELSSOHN – Violin Concerto in E Minor  / Symphony No.1

RITCHIE – Remember Parihaka

Michael Joel (conductor)

Kate Oswin (violin)

Wellington Chamber Orchestra

St.Andrew’s on-the-Terrace, Wellington

Sunday 2nd December, 2012

There’s nothing quite like an encounter (preferably “live”) with an unfamiliar piece of music that rocks one’s socks off! This happened for me right at the beginning of this Wellington Chamber Orchestra concert, with Larry Pruden’s Westland: A Back-Country Overture, a work I’d not heard before. True, the rather cramped St.Andrew’s venue heightened the music’s (and the playing’s!) raw impact, not altogether helpfully; but there was no denying the impression made by all these factors of orchestral writing which brought out the South Island’s rugged landscape grandeur in this music.

Right from the very beginning, vibrant and spacious Vaughan-Williams-like opening chords and figurations blew out the building’s walls, opened up the textures, and suffused our senses with all the trappings of the great New Zealand Outdoors. The playing had both energy and vision, giving the music’s alternating episodes plenty of room to establish their different characters and place themselves accordingly, cheeky wind episodes rubbing shoulders with gracefully melodic strings and epic gestures from the brass and percussion. The fallible orchestral moments tended to be in the quieter, more exposed sections of the score, where a few vagaries of pitch and some mis-hits sun-spotted what were generally sterling efforts by the winds and brass throughout.

Ultimately, the performance by conductor Michael Joel and his players caught what seemed to be for me the music’s essentials – a big-boned kind of “wild places” character festooned with detail and artfully shaped to make the most of contrasts of mood, reflecting in turn human response ranging from excitement and awe to quiet contemplation of beauty.

Pruden’s music made quite a contrast with the Mendelssohn that followed – no less than the E Minor Violin Concerto, played by Kate Oswin, whose playing of this work I had previously encountered in sections, with piano accompaniment.  I thought her performance on this occasion sweet-toned, accurately pitched in all but the most demanding places, and graced with moments of what came across as deep feeling alternated with a true sense of the music’s classical proportions. Michael Joel’s accompaniment featured orchestral playing of whole-hearted commitment, and strongly-realised melodic and rhythmic expression, supporting the soloist at every turn.

For her part, Kate Oswin’s approach to melodic lines and vigorous passage work sang and danced with the orchestra’s throughout – not all of her exposed lines were pitched absolutely truly, but she would make amends a few moments afterwards with some particularly felicitous detail.  An example was in the cadenza, when she teetered precariously going up to one of those high notes which the composer uses so affectingly to cap off several phrases, only to then give us a top note of the utmost beauty at the climax of the following ascent. I liked also the way she “dug into” the phrases leading up to the coda, her concentration and energy surviving a mis-hit high note, and carrying the day with great conviction through the music’s agitations and into the bassoon-led slow movement.

Strangely, a slight lack of poise seemed to unsettle the violinist’s opening phrase here, but she quickly settled down, and subsequently handled the reprise of the opening far more mellifluously. Altogether, the slow movement was a delight, the orchestra again and again reminding us of the same composer’s “Scottish” Symphony by dint of the music’s ebb and flow of like-textured intensities. By contrast, the finale’s opening brought out the fairy-like delicacies of the music, beautifully realized, with stunning fingerwork from the soloist and charming detailing from the winds. The movement’s counter-subject which flowed beneath the music’s impish scampering at the reprise of the opening was here realized with fine judgement, and Kate Oswin and the players caught the music’s growing excitement as the ending approached, with plenty of élan and a sense of a journey being completed.

Enterprisingly, the orchestra had programmed two New Zealand works for this concert, the second being Anthony Ritchie’s Remember Parihaka. As with the Pruden work this was music of considerable evocation, if more emotional and psychological than physical and pictorial. Ritchie wrote the work in response to his feelings about the incidents which took place during the 1880s at Parihaka, in Taranaki, when the iwi and followers of the paramount chief Te Whiti were forced off tribal lands at gunpoint by soldiers acting on Government orders, in response to European settlement demands. Te Whiti and many of his followers were subsequently imprisoned for their “passive resistance” to the Crown in this matter.

Though there was a raw quality to the wind-playing in the piece’s early stages, the tuning a shade or two awry during the more forceful moments, the ambience wasn’t inappropriate to the music’s theme of unease and burgeoning conflict. Different strands of feeling were represented by chanting winds, supported by thrumming strings, as opposed to the sounds of a folk-fiddle accompanied by a field-drum. MIchael Joel and his players brought these opposing strands together in conflict with great skill, the orchestral string playing in particular impressing with its power and incisiveness. The players also realized the numbness and unease of the aftermath (helped by a beautifully-presented horn-solo), the strings allowing their ambient tones to gradually dissolve and disappear. A very satisfying performance.

So to the concert’s final work, the Mendelssohn First Symphony, its place in the composer’s output (rather like Bizet’s similarly early C Major work) deceptive, as parts of the work are extremely demanding to bring off well. This was something of a curate’s egg of a performance, with the somewhat relentless technical demands of the music producing in places a rawness of sound that seemed at odds with the work’s classically-conceived lines. I was reminded of a phrase from JC Beaglehole’s notorious review of the National Orchestra’s first-ever concert in 1947 – “the playing was notable for enthusiasm and vigour rather than refinement”. The first movement was sturdy, no-nonsense “sturm-und-drang” stuff that took no prisoners, and the strings seemed to be struggling in places to keep their tone amid the rushing plethora of notes. It was all somewhat dour, I fear.

Better was the Andante, with great work by the winds at the outset (a lovely second subject, nicely-phrased). Though the ‘cellos had trouble keeping their tone in places when playing high in their register, the rest of the strings warmly came to the rescue. Some doubtful tuning took the shine off some of the close-knit wind harmonies towards the end. However, I liked the big, black scherzo, with the strings revelling in the music’s  physicality, the players bending their backs to the task in realizing these swirling, energetic sounds. Though their sounds were a bit raw in places (and they also had to put up with a strange repeated extraneous noise outside the church, completely unmusical in effect!) the players fronted up wholeheartedly to the trio’s long, lyrical wind lines and sinuous string figurations.

The finale fared better than the work’s opening movement, the orchestra’s vigorous, enthusiastic playing driving the music forward, while allowing some felicitous detailing – some poised pizzicato playing, and a lovely clarinet solo. I thought the strings made a good fist of each of the fugal passages before the end, and I suspect the celebratory joy which came across at the music’s sudden change to the major key for the brief coda was infused with as much relief on the players’ part – certainly not an easy work to bring off!

This was the final concert of the Orchestra’s fortieth anniversary season – I would guess that orchestra members and associates can look back on what has been presented and achieved during 2012 with several degrees of satisfaction. And since the band occasionally presents repertoire that no other local band has tackled of late (eg. the Larry Pruden work we heard today) the value of what it does is greatly enhanced and appreciated all the more. I look forward to another year’s stimulating music-making from the Wellington Chamber Orchestra throughout 2013.