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Category: Reviews – Concerts

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

Poulenc’s “La Vox Humaine” given a stunning performance

By , 31/01/2020
As we took our seats in the confined spaces of Cuba St.’s Suite gallery, pianist Gabriela Glapska was playing the music of Satie, beautifully coalescing the sounds of the composer’s Gymnopedies, the dance figurations wrought by the pianist almost as “held” as if depicted on a Grecian urn and the tones as “imagined” as they were real - “heard melodies are sweet, but…..” – here, time seemed to be... 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

Lightning, thunder and Orpheus Choir’s and the NZSO’s “Messiah” – never a dull moment!

By , 07/12/2019
There would probably have been a number of people at this “Messiah” performance, both performers and audience members, who had shared something of my own experience a couple of hours before the concert’s starting-time, of the onslaught of an unexpectedly vicious single lightning strike during a storm over the Mt.Victoria area of the city, one whose particular impact on the house I was inside could have been likened to... 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

Enthusiastic reception by big audience for Orchestra Wellington’s final 2019 concert of remarkable but unfamiliar music

By , 30/11/2019
This was the last of this year's subscription concerts by Orchestra Wellington. The Michael Fowler Centre was filled almost to capacity, despite the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra playing another concert at the same time in Shed 6. Orchestra Wellington played a difficult programme, made no concession to popular taste, yet it had the largest audience of any orchestra in New Zealand. There is something remarkable about this. I believe... read more

“Cello for Africa” at Porirua City a spectacular and moving multi-cultural collaborative event

By , 24/11/2019
“Cello for Africa” was, in the words of co-organisers Heleen du Plessis and Donald Maurice, an event designed “to bring people from different cultures together using music, and specifically, ‘cellos, to help create a platform for cultural interaction and human connection in support of causes in Africa”. The concert’s specific target was to raise funds for a school established in Nairobi five years ago, the Tamariki Education Centre, by... read more

Gustav Mahler’s heartfelt expression of existentialist optimism given resplendent treatment by the NZSO and departing Music Director Edo de Waart

By , 22/11/2019
“It opens as if on the brink of an abyss, and ends with an exhilarating rebirth”. With these words Edo de Waart, the conductor of this performance of Gustav Mahler’s monumental “Resurrection” Symphony, summed up in a programme foreword his reasoning for making the work his final assignment as the NZSO’s Music Director. According to the archive of that redoubtable critical periodical, “Middle C”, this was his seventh separate... read more

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