Music Alive

Monday, 6 April 2015
Terrifying Beauty

“Tinglingly alive,” was John Button’s verdict on Edo de Waart’s Mahler 9 last year with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Dutch Maestro Edo de Waart has an international reputation for conducting Mahler. It’s “in his DNA,” as he put it on Radio New Zealand Concert’s Upbeat. He does three or four, sometimes five or six different Mahler symphonies a year.

Still, he says, there are new things to find in each re-reading, like a Dostoyevsky novel. “By the third or fourth time, you have all the personas separate, and you also get a feeling of the grandness.”

Perhaps this is welcome news, since his recorded set of Mahler’s symphonies with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic was, in fact, criticised in that country for being “controlled and studio-bound” and compared unfavourably with the Royal Concertgebouw set.

Tonight, we hear him free from studio bounds in this performance captured by our own Radio New Zealand Concert team in the Auckland Town Hall last August.

Mahler wrote his great last symphony in the knowledge that a heart problem would soon end his life. For this reason, it’s often been described as “death-defying.”

Edo de Waart last came to New Zealand in 2007 to conduct Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony.  Listen to Edo de Waart’s interview with Eva Radich.

Simone Lamsma (vln), New Zealand SO/Edo de Waart

MOZART: Violin Concerto No 4 in D K218; MAHLER: Symphony No 9 in D

Recorded in the Auckland Town Hall by RNZ Concert

Coming Up on Music Alive

7:30 pm Wednesday 1 April: Schubert, Shostakovich, Beethoven

Brodsky QuartetShostakovich has long been a cornerstone of the Brodsky Quartet's repertoire and last year they performed the complete cycle during year-long reflections on the World War I centenary.

In this programme, they play No 3 in F. A critic for The Guardian singled this out as the quartet where the Brodskies showed “the greatest awareness of the composer's deeply personal engagement with the quartet medium” and their own ability to “communicate on so many levels – humanity and virtuosity all part of the essential integrity of their approach.”

They open the concert with Schubert’s ‘Quartettsatz’ - a single movement with a real ebb and flow of tension throughout, and they conclude with another late great by Beethoven: Opus 132.

The Brodsky Quartet turned 40 this decade. They recall with fondness those days in the 70s when they first got together on a Friday night after Youth Orchestra, to play football, table tennis, and sometimes quartets. Over 3000 concerts and more than 60 recordings later, they’re yours for the listening – tonight, on Radio New Zealand Concert.

Brodsky Quartet: Daniel Rowland, Ian Belton (vlns), Paul Cassidy (vla), Jacqueline Thomas (cello)

SCHUBERT: String Quartet No 12 in C minor, Quartettsatz; SHOSTAKOVICH: String Quartet No 3 in F Op 73


BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in A minor Op 132 (RNZ)

This concert is a delayed broadcast from the Auckland Town Hall by Radio New Zealand Concert

8:00 pm Thursday 2 April: Bach’s St John Passion

The PassionEnglish choral conductor par excellence Stephen Layton performs this work every Easter in London where it’s an important part of the musical calendar. Auckland experienced his St John Passion last August and it’s our turn tonight.

The story of the arrest, trial, sentencing, scourging and ultimate crucifixion of Jesus Christ, known as the Passion, is an enormously powerful one, whether you hold it central to a Christian faith or not.

In Bach, we have this profound story set to “one of the finest pieces of music in Western culture” – Stephen Layton’s own view and one few would want to argue with. Though Radio New Zealand Concert’s Eva Radich is always up for a challenge! She raises the question of numerous revisions and even neglect of the work by Bach himself, in an Upbeat interview with Stephen. “Indeed,” he replies, “it’s one of those curious things, how a composer in his own time was seen to struggle.”

It was the revival of Bach’s St Matthew Passion by Mendelssohn in 1829 which clinched fresh interest in Bach from the public and scholars – even though the St John Passion had been mounted earlier in 1822. They are Bach’s only two surviving passions – so which is your favourite? 

BACH: St John Passion BWV245

Evangelist........................ Nicholas Mulroy
Jesus................................. Paul Whelan

Siobhán Stagg (sop), Christopher Lowrey (countertenor), Derek Welton (bass), University of Auckland Chamber Choir, Auckland Philharmonia/Stephen Layton

Recorded in the Auckland Town Hall by Radio New Zealand