Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Michael Houstoun – Beethoven Revisited

By , 15/04/2013
One of the highest accolades a musician can receive is to have his or her name indelibly associated in people's minds with that of a particular composer's music - and more than any other pianist in this part of the world, Michael Houstoun's name has become practically synonymous with Beethoven. It's not been an association lightly or casually wrought - it's grown and developed over a span of time and... read more

Houstoun’s second triumphant Beethoven sonata recital

By , 14/04/2013
Each of the seven concerts in which Michael Houstoun plays all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas is high-lighted by one of the famous ‘name’ sonatas.  It is a device with far more value than mere marketability. The order of the sonatas Many in the audience will have wondered whether Houstoun had a theme or some sort of musical pattern in mind in his choice of what to put in each programme: whether... read more

“Round the Horn” – Wellington Chamber Orchestra and Samuel Jacobs

It was unfortunate that probably many in the audience beside myself had attended the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s concert in the Michael Fowler Centre the previous night: a close juxtaposition of the playing of a professional orchestra with that of an amateur orchestra is not good for the latter. Nevertheless, there were high points in this ambitious programme.  It was good to see (and hear) the brass out of the... read more

NZSO’s “Home is where the Heart is….”

The title alludes to the fact that these works were either devised, or revised, when their composers were a long way from home: Pruden in London, Dvořák in the USA and Rachmaninov in the States also. Larry Pruden’s work for string orchestra was a fine concert opener.  Its dreamy, unison opening for violins only, led us gently into the concert.  Other strings followed, the minor key giving the work a... read more

Beethoven from Houstoun – recycled with feeling

  Friday night’s opening concert of  Michael Houstoun’s Beethoven sonatas reCYCLE 2013 in Wellington brought home to me yet again that a live concert is one hundred times better than listening to recordings. One of the marks of genius in musical composition is that the composers’ works can stand endless recycling; as Michael Houstoun has said, he learns more about Beethoven and more about himself through playing the works again, his... read more

Youthful voices savoured – NZSM Voice Students

I heard four of these same singers perform last October, in Upper Hutt (9 October 2012), and my remarks then in some cases still apply; in others, the singers have noticeably improved their skills and performances.  Elisabeth Harris I heard in the master-class run by Denis O’Neill after the Lexus Song Quest last year.  Her singing has certainly moved onwards and upwards since then. First, though, we heard from Oliver... read more

Britten, Milhaud and Tchaikovsky from the NZSM Orchestra

By , 09/04/2013
This was a whale of a concert from the NZSM Orchestra and conductor Kenneth Young, performing with Auckland-based viola soloist Irina Andreeva. Much of the enjoyment was in our anticipation of the programme, which featured a not too-well-known Folksong Suite by Benjamin Britten, and an even more rarely performed concerto for viola by Darius Milhaud, coupled with one of the best-loved of the Tchaikovsky Symphonies, the "Pathetique". If not... read more

Oleg Marshev with lovely programme on Waikanae’s Fazioli piano

By , 07/04/2013
The third in the Waikanae Music Society’s 2013 series of nine concerts presented an international pianist in one of what was apparently very few New Zealand recitals. The audience was of around average size for Waikanae, perhaps 350. Book 2 of Debussy’s preludes contains music that is less familiar than Book I. The reasons are plain enough: fewer pieces of distinctive character, more ‘impressionist’ or scene-painting pieces whose strengths emerge, for... read more

Martin Riseley (violin) and Jian Liu (piano) – elegance plus outrageous virtuosity

By , 05/04/2013
The present recital, featuring violinist Martin Riseley and pianist Jian Liu, was one of a series of concerts organized this year by the New Zealand School of Music. Martin Riseley has on at least one previous occasion given me short-term lockjaw in the open position, when he played the 24 Caprices of Niccolo Paganini at a concert I attended in Wellington a little over three years ago. Playing those works... read more

First of six Bach recitals for organ and cello (and flute) at St Mary of the Angels

By , 04/04/2013
This was the first of a new series of six concerts at lunchtime Thursdays devoted to Bach. Unusually, the series puts together a number of organ works, not all very well known, alongside all six of Bach’s cello suites. It looks like a joint initiative of the church’s musical director, Robert Oliver and Douglas Mews; at this first concert the audience was big enough to reassure the church that it... read more

Panorama Theme by Themocracy