Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Enthralling and disturbing – NZ Opera’s take on Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw”

By , 03/10/2019
  It’s difficult to think of another opera whose overall theme, story-line and characterisations are more interlaced by ambiguities as Britten’s The Turn of the Screw –  the story on which the opera is based, Henry James’ novella of the same name, carries its own versions of much the same kinds of imponderables, though the opera seems, if anything, to further complicate and intensify the issues. The story tells of... read more

Piano fantasies, dreams and forebodings, from Tony Chen Lin at Wellington’s St.Andrew’s

By , 29/09/2019
Can it really be three years almost to the day that Tony Chen Lin was last playing for us in this same venue? - delighting and enthralling us on that occasion with a programme remarkable as much for its explorations of the music’s connecting threads and echoings as its contrasts and differences? Perhaps it was the unifying factor of having a similarly “only connect” spirit hovering about the music... read more

Concerted and ensembled efforts from NZSM string players give pleasure at St.Andrew’s

By , 25/09/2019
What a heartwarming occasion this was, counteracting the bitter chill of the wind outside, making nonsense of what appeared to be a sunny day. Josef Haydn’s music was just the job to lighten the spirits, and we were lucky enough to get a kind of “made-up” concerto for violin and cello, freshly discovered (!)and performed forthwith for our pleasure by various students from the New Zealand School of Music! No... read more

Versions….and versions – Beethoven, Mahler (orch. Michael Vinten) and Bruckner, from the Wellington Chamber Orchestra

By , 22/09/2019
As Michael Vinten told Radio NZ Concert’s “Upbeat” interviewer David Morriss during the week preceding the concert, none of the three works presented by the orchestra were original versions of the pieces. The closest we came to hearing a work representing its composer’s first thoughts was in the Third Symphony of Anton Bruckner – and this was the second of no less than six (or was it eight?) documented... read more

Stroma breathes life into its collection of “Sonic Portraits”

By , 19/09/2019
I came across an interesting article on the American composer Virgil Thomson when exploring the idea of “Portraits” in music. Inspired by novelist Gertrude Stein in Paris during the mid-1920s, who had made a series of free-association "literary portraits" written in a single sitting, Thomson thought he would try the same technique in music composition – his subject would “sit”, and Thomson would compose, on the spot... read more

Nailing it with Style – Circa’s “The Pink Hammer” a delightful and moving tribute to playwright Michele Amas

By , 10/09/2019
Author of “The Pink Hammer”, playwright Michele Amas – also an actor, theatre director and poet – died at the very end of 2016, after a 30-year career in television, radio and theatre. Towards the end of her career she turned her hand increasingly to writing, to poetry and for the theatre, producing firstly a pantomime, and then a play, the present production, premiered in 2014 at Palmerston North’s... read more

Percussion-driven “Carmina Burana” with the Orpheus Choir a triumph

By , 07/09/2019
Oddly enough, nowhere in the programme could I see mentioned that this was a version of Carl Orff’s most renowned work prepared by his “disciple” Wilhelm Killmayer in 1956, and authorized by Orff himself, 20 years after the original composition, one allowing smaller instrumental ensembles the opportunity to perform the piece. While relishing the prospect of hearing the Orpheus Choir’s “different” take on the composer’s evergreen “Carmina Burana”, I... read more

Two sides of a genius – Beethoven’s Eighth and Ninth Symphonies from Edo de Waart and the NZSO

By , 31/08/2019
This, the final concert in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s Beethoven Festival, presented two symphonic works at what seemed like opposite ends of everything – black-versus-white parameters of style from a composer of genius. Beethoven in his Eighth Symphony appears to be “playing” with the form, parodying the classical symphony, satirising fashions and fads, heightening and debunking all kinds of gesturings and yet still producing a forward-moving, radically original... read more

And then we heard……Symphonies Four and Five from the NZSO in its Beethoven-fest……

By , 29/08/2019
My Middle C colleague Lindis Taylor having reviewed the opening night of this momentous occasion (one would expect that performing the complete Beethoven Symphonies would be something of a milestone for any orchestra that takes itself and its “craft” seriously), it was my “turn” with the following two works of the canon. This was in no way tied to any preference for any particular work on the part of... read more

Intense, heartfelt and involving – Verdi’s Rigoletto from Eternity Opera at the Hannah Playhouse

By , 23/08/2019
I can’t think of a better instance of a small opera company bringing forth by dint of its own efforts a production with the commitment and calibre of Eternity Opera’s production of “Rigoletto”, which we saw at Wellington’s Hannah Playhouse on Friday evening. I won’t go as far as proclaiming this “the best so far” of the company’s productions in this venue, as comparisons of that sort are odious... read more

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