Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

NZSO’s season-opening concert splendid, popular programme under Hamish McKeich

By , 27/02/2019
After nearly a fortnight touring this programme through seven towns throughout the country, the NZSO reached Wellington, where there was probably some expectation of highly polished performances. It was the first of the orchestra’s 16-concert, Podium Series. The surprise, to a certain extent, was that the orchestra not only seemed to have achieved a wonderful degree of clarity and flawlessness, but that it had lost no sense of spontaneity... read more

Side by Side with Sondheim at Circa a life-enhancing experience

By , 23/02/2019
I’m not exactly a veteran of live performances of Stephen Sondheim’s musicals – New Zealand Opera did a splendid “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” in 2016 (which production AND its performance I raved about, here on “Middle C”) and both the NZ Drama School and the NZ School of Music have presented sizeable excerpts from, respectively “Company” and “Into the Woods”, each of which was deftly... read more

Direct from Nelson: Dénes Várjon and Izabella Simon in singular, absorbing solo and duet piano music

By , 17/02/2019
This concert was, reportedly, arranged through a somewhat unorthodox arrangement between the Adam Chamber Music Festival in Nelson and the Waikanae society. I’d spent five days in Nelson and had heard Dénes Várjon playing about four times, including once with his wife Izabella. One of them included the Hammerklavier as well as the last sonata, Op 111; but the first three pieces in this recital were played after I... read more

Tudor Consort opens 2019 season with Renaissance madrigals at summer concert in the sun

By , 16/02/2019
The first concert of the Tudor Consort’s year was in a different place and sang music that was different from their normal pattern. Yes, it was from the Renaissance – almost entirely composed in the 16th century, the Tudor age, and the first couple of decades of the 17th. (Purcell was the only one seriously out of place). And the music was not written for choirs or large ensembles; nor... read more

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

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