Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Category: Live performance

Scrupulous and spirited choral concert from Netherlands Chamber Choir

By , 07/03/2020
The Netherlands Chamber Choir has a fine reputation in the more sophisticated realms of international choirs. Brahms motet I have to confess, as a lover of Brahms’s orchestral, piano and chamber music, that neither his Lieder nor his choral works have appealed to me greatly: especially the a cappella pieces.  Warum ist das Licht gegeben dem Mühseligen? (‘Why has light been given to the weary soul?’) is one of a pair... read more

Splendid piano-four-hands recital crowned by the Schubert Fantasie in F minor: Emma Sayers and Rachel Thomson

By , 04/03/2020
Here was a charming and admirable lunchtime recital: the ideal recipe for cleansing your emotions and mind of the wild, eccentric experiences of this year’s Festival: in my case a Kopernikus and a Mad King in close proximity. Piano duets can be edgy affairs as they demand a perfection of ensemble that’s called for from hardly any other musicians who play together. Apart from the Schubert, this was not heavy-weight... read more

Festival stages remarkable, eccentric opera by Canadian, Claude Vivier

By , 01/03/2020
It hasn’t been hard to have missed references in the international musical press to a very unusual opera by an unorthodox, fairly obscure composer. Think again if you imagined you would be presented with a kind of operatic biography of the great astronomer, for he is merely one of a number of disparate historical and fictional figures that feature in Canadian composer Claude Vivier’s work. A work that that is... read more

Barbara Paterson’s moving operatic portrayal of love in crisis in Poulenc’s monodrama

By , 27/02/2020
My colleague Peter Mechen reviewed what might have been considered the preview performance of Poulenc’s monodrama La voix humaine, on 31 January. But being a huge fan of Poulenc I felt that Paterson's performance in the Festival itself deserved attention. La voix humaine is one of the most remarkable operatic pieces: not merely of the 20th century; not merely on account of the music which is a tremblingly vivid evocation of... read more

NZSO, Gorecki and Ponifasio/MAU share singularly successful juxtaposing of utterly disparate creations, of profound common human vulnerabilities

By , 21/02/2020
It might have been slightly unusual to open a festival with a work (two works?) whose subject was the nature of woman, childbirth, even death, and dealing indirectly with one of the most terrible episodes in history. However, it drew attention to the way in which this festival has been created and conceived. Substantially put together by three leading figures in the performing arts, ‘Guest Curators’, carefully chosen with attention... read more

Michael Houstoun bows out triumphantly at Waikanae in the company of the Amici Ensemble

By , 09/02/2020
The first concert in the Waikanae Music Society’s 2020 season welcomed the audience with a ‘Full House’ notice at the door: meaning that around 500 filled the hall. It was a celebration of Michael Houstoun’s long career: his last concert for the society which has hosted him regularly since 1986. He played in the company of Donald Armstrong’s Amici Ensemble which has also been a major and very popular... read more

Big audience for the first NZSO Shed series avoiding the mainstream classics

By , 31/01/2020
The idea of using the first of its Shed concerts to open the NZSO’s 2020 series proved a winner, as there was a bigger audience than I’ve seen at these before and the result was an endorsement of the idea of a less than formal affair to attract a different audience. Everyone I spoke to agreed that it had attracted people you wouldn’t see in the Michael Fowler Centre... read more

Large audience for a delightful concert by Camerata chamber orchestra

By , 16/12/2019
Camerata’s vision is to ‘perform high quality joyful chamber music accessible alike to newcomers and classical aficionados’. The small chamber orchestra includes members of Wellington’s professional orchestras as well as students and graduates of the NZ School of Music. It is a very accomplished ensemble. Corelli: Christmas Concerto Anne Loeser and Ursula Evans violins, Robert Ibell, cello This is probably Corelli’s most popular work, often featured in anthologies of Christmas music. It is now... read more

Wellington Chamber Orchestra succeeds with Šinkovec Burstin in Grieg piano concerto, and other Nordic classics

By , 08/12/2019
In my review of Jian Liu’s performance two years ago of Grieg’s Piano Concerto I remarked that I was mystified that it continued to be considered a popular, even hackneyed work when, for many years, it’s been so little performed. That lovely performance with Jian Liu may have prompted the Wellington Chamber Orchestra to take a look at it. If so they served themselves and Edvard Grieg very well Helios  Nielsen’s... read more

Haydn, Brahms and Brigid Bisley in superb recital from Diedre Irons and the Aroha Quartet

By , 01/12/2019
Haydn’s The Bird The last 2019 concert from the Aroha Quartet opened with Haydn’s quartet, The Bird, creating sounds that were quite stunning: not in the normal sense of fortissimo, exciting or cacophonous, but with sounds that were hardly of a string quartet at all. They were of such refinement and purity that they really did evoke the subtlest of bird calls that were pure and secretive, unearthly. The marking... read more

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