All over the radios (including festival times)

Mstislav Rostropovich, Dmitri Shostakovich & Sviatoslav Richter in 1968. (Source)

I wrote and presented the most recent Composer of the Week programme for Radio New Zealand Concert. It’s not about a single composer; the topic is rather works written for Mstislav Rostropovich. You can listen to it here until Sunday 28 October (embedding won’t work sorry).

Yes, of course, there are the famous cello concertos: Shostakovich’s two, Prokofiev’s Symphony-Concerto, all of Britten’s cello works, but there’s a whole lot more besides.

In the programme I don’t even have a chance to mention any pieces by Olivier Messiaen, Iannis Xenakis, Pierre Boulez, Kaija Saariaho and James Macmillan, just to name a few. But I do get to play music by Aram Khachaturian, Leonard Bernstein, Krzysztof Penderecki, Miecysław Weinberg, and Boris Tchaikovsky (no relation).

Actually, I realise now I completely left out Ástor Piazzolla, not even name-checking the guy. Oh well, wasn’t just him I left out.

Well represented too is Alfred Schnittke, a name that’s often left off when talking about Rostropovich’s great composer collaborators. I get in a bit of his opera Life With an Idiot and his Cello Sonata No 2.

I reviewed four concerts in the recent Otago Festival of the Arts for Upbeat. Firstly, the Vienna Boys Choir and Hahn-Bin Amadeus Leopold on Thursday’s programme:

And then Le Vent du Nord and H’Sao today:

Besides these four, I went to see Rita & Douglas (compelling performance from Jennifer Ward-Lealand and very well-judged playing by Michael Houstoun, might have been a bit long though), the Spooky Men’s Chorale (lol), and the wind quintet Zephyr performing both for the Festival and for Chamber Music New Zealand (a well put-together programme with very interesting music).

But my most fun experience of the Festival? Catching up once again with an old mate from Wellington, Carlos Navae, and being invited to play trombone for his late-night Festival Club gig. Haven’t had a Latin jam in aaaaages. (Wellington: lots of Latin music. Dunedin: not so much.)

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