Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Positive Responses

Shed Series – Responses
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Friday, May 10
Reviewer: Max Rashbrooke

I was delighted with the one Shed Series concert – gig? – I attended last year: it brought a different kind of energy, and, crucially, audience. Accordingly I had high hopes this time round.

I didn’t, first up, enjoy the layout quite as much as last time. Then, the orchestra had been situated along the long wall, right in the heart of the audience; this time they were largely located at one end, switching later on to the other end. It felt slightly less intimate, slightly less innovative.

But the opening work, Hadyn’s Symphony No 38, was spot on: a charming, cosmopolitan, sprightly work with just the right amount of (in)formality for the setting and an almost chamber music style feel. During some of the lovely hushed moments in the second movement, I looked to one side of me and saw couples standing with their arms around each other – a fine way to enjoy such fine music.

In the Hadyn, the string sounds – tiny, delicate, almost hesitant – were especially good, as were Robert Orr’s oboe solos. Not everything was perfect, though: some of the horn notes didn’t sound quite right in the third movement, and as was the case last year, the sound of doors opening and shutting was still distracting.

The second work was Elegy by Leonie Holmes, an Aucklander rapidly becoming my favourite contemporary New Zealand composer. This was a finely crafted thing, made of alternately gentle and harsh sounds above an insistent beat. Though tonally very different, it reminded me in some way of Arvo Part’s work, especially in its ability to stoke tension while remaining meditative and beautiful.

Less convincing, as a whole, was the next piece, Homenaje a Federico Garcia Lorca by Silvestre Revueltas. The orchestra performed it with great skill and no little gusto, and individually the movements were enormously entertaining, especially the first, the borderline-discordant energy of which reminded one of a cartoon chase scene constantly threatening to get out of hand.

But it was hard to trace a coherent story or even a consistent musical thread through the three disjointed movements. Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, meanwhile, wasn’t for me a complete success, feeling perhaps a fraction too stately and graceful in its opening movements, although later on it enjoyed a greater dynamic range.

No one, though, could complain about a lack of drama in Krzysztof Penderecki’s extraordinary Polymorphia. Menacing and disturbing, its scratchy sounds suggestive of ‘things’ trying to break through from another world, it was handled perfectly by conductor Hamish McKeich and the players.

Its wild energy was so unsettling, in fact, that it’s hard to think what could have adequately followed it. Even though Jonny Greenwood’s 48 Responses to Polymorphia was, obviously, written in reaction, it didn’t have the same impact. Full of ideas, it failed – to my ears – to develop them convincingly. Fortunately, the NZSO seems to be pretty good at developing its ideas, the Shed Series in particular. More, please!

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis Review: Ans Westra & The New Photography At Te Papa

Te Papa's latest exhibition and publication focuses its corrective lenses on eight outstanding photographic pioneers who forged a bold new style during the 1960s and 70s. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Making History

Jock Phillips is a pioneering public historian who has sought new ways to communicate history to a wide audience. His autobiographical memoir is a fascinating account of how perceptions of history have changed through his career. More>>

New Budget Arts Funding: Fairer Wage For Grant Artists, Creatives In Schools

The vital contribution and huge value the creative sector brings to New Zealand is recognised in this year’s Budget with $11.157 million over four years for two new initiatives, the Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern said today. More>>


Auckland Region MMR Change: Children To Be Vaccinated For Measles At 12 Months

The first measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination has been brought forward to 12 months from 15 months in Auckland because of the region’s measles outbreak. More>>


Tapu Te Ranga: Fire Destroys Main Building At Island Bay Marae

There was a large fire at the Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Island Bay early Sunday morning. Firefighters saved the meeting house, but the main building collapsed in the blaze and other surrounding buildings were compromised. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland