Supported by generous help from the Turnovsky Endowment Trust

Strauss’s final tone poem a mighty opening for the NZSO’s 2017 season

By , 25/03/2017
Here was a concert designed to attract various classes of music lovers: those attached to the classical heartland, discreetly coloured by a pictorial Romanticism; lovers of the voice in melodious, conventional guise with music composed at the turn of the 20th century; and finally, for those susceptible to musical expressionism on a vast scale, an evocation of vast natural phenomena and secular voluptuousness. Though the orchestra had its first major... read more

Purcell’s “happier graces” prevail in concert of improvisations

By , 18/03/2017
This was a concert whose music-making seemed to connect with practically everybody who sat within coo-ee of me in the Michael Fowler Centre, judging by the warmth and enthusiasm of the reception for the musicians at the end of the evening. While I must confess I wasn't as obviously enamoured of some of the concert's offerings as most people were, I certainly registered the individual and corporate skills of... read more

Memorable Lower Hutt recital of the familiar and the unknown

Chamber music at its best.  Splendid performers, enthusiastic, receptive audience, good acoustics, masterworks of the repertoire.  One can’t ask for much more, whether the players are from overseas or are our locals – the latter the case this time, with strings all from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, with the added talents of pianist Jian Liu, from the New Zealand School of Music.  However, the concert deserved a larger... read more

Ordinary heroism – four women bare their lives in Circa Theatre’s new Caryl Churchill play “Escaped Alone”

By , 14/03/2017
Back in days of yore, I remember taking part in a one-act play written by Irishman Brian Friel, called "Lovers, Winners", a scenario involving two actors and two narrators. The former were the eponymous "Lovers", who enacted a single day's events, their interchanges filled with hopes and plans for their future, while the two narrators (I was one) took turns to counterpoint the stage action with a matter-of-fact commentary... read more

Successful violin and viola duo reveal rare Mozart and well-known Halvorsen

By , 08/03/2017
The names of the two performers at this lunchtime concert should no doubt have been familiar to me, as they have been on the Wellington scene on and off for a long time; both had played in the NZSO. Both have lived and studied overseas and now work in other fields in Wellington, though music clearly remains an important part of their lives. The programme note explained that Mozart wrote... read more

The NZSO at seventy with an inspired programme for a full house

By , 06/03/2017
All three Middle C reviewers collaborated in reviewing this momentous concert. We paid attention in our first name alphabetic order. The first, fourth and seventh are Lindis’s, second, fifth and eighth, Peter’s, and the others, Rosemary’s. Introduction (LT) In keeping with the feisty critical tradition established by Beaglehole and Finlay at that first concert on 6 March 1947, let’s start with a little grizzle. Wonderful for Wellington to be offered a free... read more

Paekakariki’s Mulled Wine concert series opens in the rich classical heartland

By , 05/03/2017
I missed the first of Paekakriki’s Mulled Wine concerts in January, organised by Mary Gow, featuring ‘Ukes of Wellington’ along with wine and beer at the bar; all three I could well have enjoyed. However, I caught the first serious engagement, involving three leading Wellington musicians none of whom were born in New Zealand but who one hopes will not change their minds in the light of political or other... read more

Göknil Biner and Tom McGrath deliver delightful recital of Schubert, Schumann and Fauré songs, plus Scriabin piano piece

It was a pleasure to have out-of-town performers at the lunchtime concert; this married couple are from Dunedin, where Tom McGrath is on the staff of the University of Otago. The programme consisted of some familiar Schubert and Schumann lieder and songs by Fauré, and others less familiar.  All the words were printed in translation, and the authors of the poems were given. The first Schubert lied was An die Natur, written... read more

NZ Opera’s Mikado contentious but “not to be missed”

By , 25/02/2017
When W.S.Gilbert's ornamental Japanese sword fell off the wall of his study while he was turning over in his mind ideas for his latest operatic collaboration with Sir Arthur Sullivan, The Mikado was born - or so all the G&S history books tell us. In fact, there happened to be a vogue for japonaiserie in England at the time Mikado first hit the stage, instigated some years before by... read more

Hungarian pianist Dénes Varjon at Waikanae with enterprising programme, rich in Bartók

By , 19/02/2017
The first concert in the nine-concert Waikanae chamber music series neatly filled a hole in my piano recital experiences that the same programme would have provided in Nelson if I’d been there the previous Sunday. Varjon was one of this year’s stars at the biennial Adam Chamber Music Festival in Nelson (see my review date-lined 11 February). He was hot news there and even though I heard him in various... read more

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