New Classical Music in October

October’s classical music picks feature a Spanish cello and guitar duo, some never before recorded New Zealand organs, a unique juxtaposition of Bach and Cage, and other quirky and exciting recordings that have recently graced our shelves!

Cover ImageA lesson in love. (CD)
“English lyric soprano Kate Royal devised this stunning collection, which charts the journey of a young girl’s relationship: from the first kiss and thrill of a blossoming love and initial intimacy through to the joy of a love fulfilled, to the disappointment and anger when the relationship breaks down, and ends with the girl’s acceptance and a cheeky sense of optimism about what her future love life might hold. The result is a unique song cycle – a thematic journey through the highs and lows of love, of young naivety lost and emotional maturity gained. Royal leads us through her own personal choice of song, where her innate sense of drama and her passion for musical storytelling brings a fresh and youthful interpretation of the disc repertoire. A Lesson in Love contains a mixture of well-known songs as well as some surprising rarities, with a range of song styles and languages to appeal to a broad audience.” (adapted from amazon.com product description)

Cover imageSinfonie Nr. 1, c-Moll, Urfassung 1865/66 (Linzer Fassung) / Anton Bruckner. (CD)
“With Bruckner’s first four symphonies, Simone Young follows in the footsteps of Georg Tintner in trusting the original text. She has already recorded Sym. 2-4, so this new Sym. #1 completes the mission. In all these early symphonies Young has done well. She has a natural feeling for Bruckner’s long line and doesn’t lapse into episodic music-making even when the work itself tends to be disjointed. Young is so light and fresh in her approach to this formative work, which straddles the worlds of Schubert and mature Bruckner, that even when you recognize the primitive nature of the development sections, listening is pleasurable” (amazon.com review)

Cover imageBachCage (CD)
“A young musician and composer causing a stir, not only on the club scene, but also in classical concert venues is probably a world-first. Tristano’s idiosyncratic and very personal handling of his musical pioneers, Bach and Cage. Perhaps Tristano is one of the first representatives of a new generation of musicians who no longer belong to a specific school. This generation also takes advantage of the fact that practically the whole repertoire of all music ever recorded is available on the Internet. The most diverse kinds of music stand alongside each other, taken out of their typical context and available in some would say, a more democratic form. Tristano makes use of this, stamping his mark on the world of music and providing a fresh and unique sound, unlike anything that has been heard before.” (adapted from amazon.com description)

Cover ImageIbérica (CD)
“The highly acclaimed French cellist Anne Gastinel collaborates with virtuoso Argentine guitarist Pablo Márquez in a delightful release exploring the passion and soul of Spanish music. The follow up to her successful Schubert Sonatas and Bach Suites albums sees Gastinel select the pieces and arrange them for cello. The recording includes Spanish Classical music standards by Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla and Gaspar Cassadó. Anne Gastinel records exclusively for Naïve, each new release is hailed by the international press and showered with awards. Achievements include: French Classical Music Awards ‘Most Promising Young Talent 94’ and ‘Best Recording of the Year’; ‘Fnac’ Prize 1995 and 2000; Prix de l’Académie du Disque; RTL Classique d’Or 1996 and 1998; the “Choc” du Monde de la Musique, Télérama (1998, 2000, 2001, and 2002). Pablo Márquez’s recordings for ECM New Series and Kairos have received numerous awards, including the Grand Prix du Disque de l’Acedémie Charles Cros, the Amadeus Prize. Personnel: Anne Gastinel (cello), Pablo Márquez (guitar)”  (amazon.co.uk description)

New Zealand organ music (CD)
“This groundbreaking recording features organ music by some of New Zealand’s most talented composers recorded on a variety of significant instruments around Wellington, performed by Richard Apperley, Assistant Director of Music at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Apperley says ‘this disc is largely a response to the devastating effect of the Christchurch earthquakes on so many churches and organs in the city. Whilst we can do little to protect the organs of Wellington should we experience a similar tragedy, it seems prudent to make a permanent audio recording of some of our finest instruments. The music of New Zealand composers has long been a passion of mine, and I’m thrilled to be able present a disc of this nature.’ The organs include those at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, Sacred Heart Cathedral, St Peter’s Willis Street, St James’ Presbyterian Newtown, St Paul’s Lutheran Church and the National War Memorial. Of particular significance is the Norman and Beard instrument at St James’ Presbyterian church – the building is due to be demolished later this year due to earthquake risk.”  (adapted from Publisher’s description)

Hikoi / Nunns & Dyne. Journey / Nunns, Dyke, Lisik. (CD)
“Two gorgeously textured and sonically stunning works featuring some of New Zealand’s finest jazz musicians and ethnomusicologists. The first work, Hikoi, is a group of improvised dialogues between Richard Nunns playing taonga puoro and Paul Dyne, head of jazz at Wellington’s New Zealand School of Music, on bass. The second work, Journey, which is based upon Hikoi’s improvisations and composed by Dave Lisik, is a work for taonga puoro, bass, piano, tenor sax and electronics. ” (adapted from CD liner notes)

The Alchemy of Music

This month’s Classical Music selection includes books dealing with the appeal of orchestras’ conductors, the history of the piano in colonial New Zealand, as well as a symphony inspired by WW1 and old Jazz classics.

Syndetics book coverMusic as alchemy / Tom Service.
“An immensely fun and engaging study of the art of orchestral conducting. How are conductors’ silent gestures magicked into sound by a group of more than a hundred brilliant but belligerent musicians? Orchestras can be inspired to the heights of musical and expressive possibility by their maestros, or flabbergasted that someone who doesn’t even make a sound should be elevated to demigod-like status by the public. This is the first book to go inside the rehearsal rooms of some of the most inspirational orchestral partnerships in the world. It’s the first to see how Simon Rattle works with his musicians at the Berlin Philharmonic, how Mariss Jansons deals with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, and how Claudio Abbado creates the world’s most luxurious pick-up band every year with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. From London to Budapest, Bamberg to Vienna, great orchestral concerts are recreated as a collection of countless human and musical stories. The book reveals how the catalysts of place, time, and personal history are alchemised into the indelible magic of life-changing performances”. – (Adapted from amazon.com ‘s book description.)

Syndetics book coverPiano forte : stories and soundscapes from colonial New Zealand / Kirstine Moffat.
“In 1827 the newly wed Elizabeth Mair arrived in Paihia, on board the mission schooner Herald.  Her treasured Broadwood grand square piano accompanied her, almost certainly the first piano to arrive in New Zealand.  This instrument and the thousands of other pianos that followed provided European settlers with a reassuring sense of ‘home’ and at the same time introduced Maori to a new sound world…Piano forte … draws on memoirs, diaries, letters, concert programmes, company records, fiction and visual images. The stories end in 1930 when the increasing popularity of the phonograph, the radio and the introduction of the talkie movies were beginning to have a profound impact on people’s leisure activities” – (from cover summary)

Cover ImageSymphonies nos. 2 and 3 [sound recording] / Ross Harris.
“The stunning voice of New Zealand’s Madeleine Pierard shines in the first of these two Ross Harris works. Described as “often beautiful and sometimes frightening” (NZ Listener), Ross Harris’s Symphony No. 2 is a setting of poems on the subject of New Zealand soldiers shot for desertion in World War One. Writer Vincent O’Sullivan’s deeply felt descriptions of violence, love and tragedy are reflected in a moving and dramatic score. Symphony No. 3 is inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall, and develops and transforms klezmer-like tunes as its basic material. These symphonies were composed for the Auckland Philharmonia, and both won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award”- (from CD’s liner notes)

Cover ImageStandards only.
Jazz and Gospel trombonist Wycliffe Gordon is in fine form in this collection of standards – highlights include “On the Sunny Side of the Street” “Georgia on My Mind” and “What is This Thing Called Love” – highly recommended.

Classical music picks

These classical music picks highlight some new releases in chamber music – both ensemble and opera, a recording that traverses the boundary between orchestral jazz and contemporary classical, and a new release for lovers of English music history.

String quartets / by Dmitri Shostakovich and his contemporaries (volume 1) and String quartets / by Dmitri Shostakovich and his contemporaries (volume 2)
Cover ImageCover Image“[T]he Pacifica Quartet is one of the best chamber ensembles out there…even so, there’s no dearth of fine Shostakovich cycles, from the Borodin Quartet to the Emerson. These performances, every bit as fine as those, would be excellent by themselves, but they do risk getting lost in the discographic shuffle. So it was an inspired idea to pair them in this series with other important works in the same medium by Shostakovich’s contemporaries…. A great start to a very promising series.” – (adapted from ClassicsToday.com review)

Cover ImageApparent distance / Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet
“A truly transcendent recording, “Apparent Distance is a four-part suite, commissioned through a 2010 New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. In the liner notes, Bynum writes My goal is not just to blur the lines between composition and improvisation (a long-time pursuit), but to try to upend the listeners expectations in other ways: circular melodies without beginnings or ends, disguised unisons and non-repetitive vamps, transitions that are simultaneously jarring and organic. Most importantly, I want to spotlight the striking individuality and virtuosity of all the players, albeit in a context where the needs of the ensemble reign supreme a concerto for sextet, if you will. Since the composition s premiere in August 2010, the sextet has performed the work on tour and at the Saalfelden Jazz Festival (Austria), the Banlieues Bleues Festival (France), and the Crosscurrents Festival (New York). Jim Macnie of the Village Voice writes ‘Whether they’re lines that swirl upward, chasing their own tail, or lines that spill downward, like a Slinky on a staircase, the elemental motifs of the cornetist/composer’s pieces are full of springy kinetics. But they re more than mere nu-jazz puzzles. Bynum wrings emotion from his crew. His use of texture and trajectory has to do with his appreciation of passion.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover ImageThe Okavango Macbeth [sound recording] / [music by Tom Cunningham].
“The Macbeth story as played out in a troupe of baboons in Botswana? This fanciful idea inspired the writer Alexander McCall Smith and the composer Tom Cunningham to come up with their chamber opera, The Okavango Macbeth. Set in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana, the opera deals with the efforts of an ambitious female baboon, Lady Macbeth, to encourage her husband, Macbeth, to murder the dominant baboon, Duncan…[I]n this extraordinary and unusual tale, a new operatic gem has emerged.” – (adapted from Liner notes)

Syndetics book coverThe classical music map of Britain / Richard Fawkes.
“Why is Chelsea so important to the Mozart story? Who really headlined at the first ever Glastonbury Festival? Which small Welsh village do Faure, Stravinsky and Prokofiev have in common? ‘The Classical Music Map of Britain’ is a charming and fascinating journey around the UK from a classical music perspective. Extensively researched and beautifully written, every entry explains why each place was so special to the composer in question, which pieces were composed there, and whether it is currently open to the public. Including hand-illustrated maps depicting key areas of interest, ‘The Classical Music Map of Britain’ is an enchanting adventure around some of our lesser-known landmarks – perfect for any lover of history or classical music.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Classical music recent picks

This month’s recent picks for classical music focuses on new works – and features both recent compositions and some interesting interpretations of well-loved material. 

A bugle will do [sound recording] / Anthony Richie. 
A collection of pieces by New Zealand composer Anthony Richie, performed by the NZSO and conducted by Tecwyn Evans.  The title track is a piece commissioned by the NZSO to commemorate the death of New Zealand’s most famous war hero, Sir Charles Upham.  The album also contains Symphony No.3 (2010) op.150, French Overture (2008) op.138 and Revelations (1998) op.82.

The excellent art of voluntary [sound recording] : early English organ music from Pembroke College, Cambridge / [performed by] Robert Costin.  
Robert Costin, previously organist at St Paul’s Cathedral in Wellington and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland, performs a selection of early English organ works on the organ at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Dancing [sound recording] : the jazz fever of Milhaud, Martinů, Seiber, Burian, Wolpe. 
A gorgeous and slick recording of some lesser-known European 20th Century composers who adopted jazz idioms into orchestral art music. 

Fantaisie, fantasme [sound recording]. 
Israeli pianist David Greilsammer recontextualises three centuries’ worth of piano music by creating a programme around Mozart’s Fantasia for piano in C minor. 

Concerto pour 2 pianos et orchestre [sound recording] ; Suite française ; Concert champêtre / Francis Poulenc.
Perhaps I’m showing bias with my second entry of twentieth century French repitoire, but I couldn’t go past this sublime recording by Anima Eterna, a Flemish group, of Poulenc’s Concerto for 2 pianos, Concert Champatre and Suite Francaise.  Highly recommended.

Classical Music Picks for April

There’s nothing trivial about these recent picks from our classical music collection, which highlight some new and very interesting titles in the much-loved genre of music lists and music history.

Syndetics book coverThe Classic FM hall of fame / Darren Henley, Sam Jackson, Tim Lihoreau ; illustrated by Lynn Hatzius.
This is a collection of the 300 most popular pieces of classical music, as voted for by Classic FM listeners.

Syndetics book coverA natural history of the piano : the instrument, the music, the musicians–from Mozart to modern jazz, and everything in between / Stuart Isacoff.
“In this engrossing study, pianist Isacoff (Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization) combines basic history of the construction and sound of pianos with witty discourses on composers and performers and their cultural context. Dividing the subject into thematic sections such as “Combustibles” or “Rhythmitizers” brings together similar stylists from across the centuries, while certain major schools such as that emanating from Russia are given separate treatment. Although the field of piano history books is already crowded, this title stands out for its distinctive inclusion of jazz figures such as Duke Ellington and for long quotations from artists ranging from Vladimir Horowitz to Billy Joel. Isacoff addresses the role of women musicians and brings to the fore valuable if long-forgotten names as well. The many photographs and drawings lend much humanity; diagrams and selected musical examples, contributor biographies, and sections of notes are all useful.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverIllegal harmonies : music in the modern age / Andrew Ford.
Illegal Harmonies is an engaging, facinating and very accessible introduction to 20th and 21st century art music:
“A delightful and informative history of modern music. Harmony is created by bringing sounds together. In music lessons, we learn how to do this in a formal way: we learn about chords and keys, and we are given rules for using them. This is the textbook way; this is legal harmony. Everything else – including the sounds that constantly surround us, those of ticking clocks, dogs, traffic, birdsong and aeroplanes – is illegal harmony. Illegal Harmonies charts the course of music over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, linking it to developments in literature, theatre, cinema and the visual arts, and to popular music from Irving Berlin to The Beatles to rap. The result is a stimulating, provocative and always informative cultural history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWorld music is where we found it / essays by and for Allan Thomas ; edited by Wendy Pond and Paul Wolffram.
A New Zealand contribution to this month’s round-up, World Music is Where We Found it is a collection of essays written by and for the late Victoria University lecturer Allan Thomas, providing a fresh insight into Ethnomusicology in Aotearoa.

New zines – Vita’s picks

If you’re looking for some whimsical ephemera to help wile away the holiday hours, we have HEAPS of new zines, including Wellington Zinefest purchases, on display in the zine collection on the first floor at WCL.  Here are some of my picks from the newbies…

bookofpoetryBook of Poetry and Short Stories by Zora Patrick. 
This was Wellington Zinefest 2011’s ‘Best of Fest’ winner, and as part of the erudite panel of judges for that award I’m possibly slightly biased, but I cannot say enough about how awesome this little zine is.  At just 11 years old, Zora has created a piece of self-published art that is funny, philosophical, original, weird, a little bit poignant, and downright lovingly crafted and beautiful.  Pretty much everything a zine should be, in my opinion. 

theyearimetelvis1984: The Year I Met Elvis – An Exhibition About Growing Up in the 80s by Sally Papps et al. 
Zine/catalogue of an exhibition by Sally Papps, Elvis is a memoir of teenage life in Nelson/Golden Bay in the 80s. A cute work of local history and a wonderful slice-of-life ethos.

dailysecretionDaily Secretion: Third Emission by Hannah Salmon. 
As delightfully transgressive and bad-taste pioneering as ever, the third installment of Daily Secretion answers all your questions on topics such as Paul Henry and thantophobia (fear of death or dying). The perfect Christmas present for grandma. 

whereyouatbroWhere You at, Bro? by David Merritt. 
David Merritt’s self-published travelling poetic ramblings are bite-sized but sturdily built.  While this is my favourite of his latest offerings, grab a few at a time – they are genuinely inspirational for writing, roadtrips and general Kerouac-esque badassness.

International Zine Month

Word up – July is International Zine Month! International Zine Month is the brainchild of Alex Wrekk and friends as a celebration of all things zine-esque.  There are a whole heap of events going on throughout the month – including 24-hour zine challenge which is running throughout July.  If you’re too crazy-busy to take a whole day out of your life for frivilous art-making, Alex and co have a whole lot of other suggestions of ways to celebrate here.  As always, the Zine Team at WCL are totally keen to receive the final products of your 24-hour mania (or any other donations), news about your upcoming work, declations of love etc. 

International Zine Month blog

International Zine Month facebook page