Reviews

One of the highlights of Auckland's musical life these last few years has been the semi-regular appearances of English conductor Stephen Layton to lead the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in Bach's great choral masterworks. Previous instalments have included revelatory performances of the B Minor Mass and St John Passion and, this year, these were followed by the St Matthew Passion, the second of...
The APO has already given us a concert opera this year with Verdi’s Aida but last night’s performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion seemed like another one at times with its drama, passions, and powerful music. The story is told from multiple perspectives with some soloists, the chorus, and the orchestra taking on different roles and characters.This is not an easy work in many ways with its often...
A hundred years since the end of World War One – the war supposedly to end all wars – armed conflicts around the globe continue to cost millions of lives. Through multi-sensory, multi-time frame immersive theatre, Marc Rees’ Now the Hero / Nawr yr Arwr powerfully commemorates the fallen with the cry: “Remembrance is not enough”. Commissioned by 14-18 Now, this hugely ambitious piece is inspired...
Remembrance is not enough.” These stark words, hurled through a megaphone from a bridge that looks out over the expanse of Swansea Bay, set the tone for this three-hour epic. From the opening moments as three soldiers – a Celtic warrior, a first world war officer and a modern soldier in camouflage – land on the sandy beach, Marc Rees’s Now the Hero/Nawr yr Arwr combines the histories of the 20th...
As I listened to this excellent new recording of the B minor Mass I found myself reflecting on the progress that we have witnessed in recent years. When I first started to listen seriously to the choral music of Bach, some 35 years ago at least, a commercial recording of the mighty B minor Mass by a student choir would have been an unlikely proposition. Furthermore, despite the excellent work...
All’s well, everything precisely where it should be with this new Bach B minor Mass, albeit from a source not known for many forays into this territory. The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge is one of the world’s finest choirs, one that operates in an atmosphere and expectation of excellence, neither knowing nor inhabiting a world of the middling or mediocre either in performances or recordings...