The late Patric Standford may have written these short pieces deliberately to provoke our feedback. If so, his success is reflected in the rich range of readers' comments appearing at the foot of most of the pages.
'His writing shows perception, depth and humanity' - Fanny Waterman
'A fine music writer ... and much needed.' - Libby Larsen
'He is among the first authorities I would turn to for informed commentary and people-based work - a terrific writer' - Rob Cowan
'Howard Smith is one of the most versatile musicians I have ever met. He is a brilliant journalist with an exceptionally wide background. As a music critic Smith is definitely one of the best in the world. His articles in Strad magazine are considered by many as most interesting essays with deep philosophical insights and an impressive knowledge of all practical and theoretical aspects of music performance.' - Alexander Ivashkin
Howard Smith, born on 8 July 1939, was a British journalist, adjudicator, editor and photographer, internationally recognised as an authoritative music and travel writer. For some years he was a senior interviewer/writer, TV and arts critic with the then Dominion/Sunday Times in Wellington, New Zealand, later becoming the sole leader writer for the China Mail in Hong Kong.
From the mid 1970s until 1987 he worked for Thomson Regional Newspapers (TRN) in North East England, writing extensively on arts, travel, and news background topics. Subsequently, from his base in Minneapolis, MN, USA, he provided copy for a variety of outlets throughout the American mid-west.
From the mid 1990s he worked for APN in New Zealand. At the same time he supplied notes for the NZ International Festival of the Arts and articles for The Listener, North & South, the Sunday Star-Times and major dailies in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Since the dawn of the third millennium he undertook assignments in Hatsukaichi, Japan; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Noumea, New Caledonia; Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Pacific Russia; and Uralsk, Kazakhstan.
For three years he broadcast for Arrow FM Radio (New Zealand) and lectured in specialist journalism at Whitireia Polytechnic, just outside Wellington. During the last decade of his life, he was NZ agent for Khazak-born violinist Marat Bisengaliev and Serbian pianist Sonja Radojkovic. He was a regular and prolific contributor to Music & Vision for over fourteen years, leaving nearly ninety unpublished CD reviews when he died suddenly from a stroke on 4 August 2015, aged seventy-six. His family generously agreed to allow M&V to publish these reviews posthumously, and they were all published between 2015 and 2018 on Music & Vision's subscription site.
Richard Harwood's EMI debut, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Harwood never once strives for effect ...'
Music by Roger Rudenstein, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... clearly committed music-making by all those involved.'
The Chicago music scene in 2007, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'With chamber music writing of this calibre American audiences can rest assured; their future is in more than capable hands.'
The Flemish septet Aranis, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'There's no doubting Aranis' outright professionalism and faultless ensemble; and the fifty-five minute programme has a degree of variety.'
Music for euphonium, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... it's the lyrical selections that reveal Frey at his finest.'
Music by Andrew Paul Macdonald, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... excellent performances/production values ...'
360 Degree Guitar Duo, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... ideal for relaxation with a chianti ...'
Violin and piano music by Oskar Morawetz, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'In committed, firmly etched performances, violinist Jasper Wood with pianist David Riley present a strong case for home listeners keen to explore unfamiliar violin music of the recent past.'
Music for oboe, viola and piano, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Here ... is a chamber music CD qualifying emphatically as "a must" for eager music lovers everywhere. It doesn't get any better.'
Music by John William 'Blind' Boone, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'John Davis' adroit (Steinway) performances are consistently well-judged ...'
The Ahn Trio, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... this shallow programme lacks any lucid direction or musical focus.'
Olga Solovieva plays Herman Galynin, highly recommended by the late Howard Smith. 'How judiciously this pianist measures the weight and mood of each item within her entire programme.'
The American Horn Quartet, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'One can only marvel at such shared virtuosity in technique with an instrument with no escape routes; no latitude for error.'
Unconventional concertos by Mark Armanini, fascinated the late Howard Smith. '... this Chinese-Canadian-Vietnamese-Latvian programme is fascinating, eloquent, musically distinguished and deserving of a widespread multi-national following.'
Judith Aller plays Corelli and Kreisler, highly recommended by the late Howard Smith. 'How gratifying to discover another fine, established American violinist who did not emerge from the Galamian-DeLay assembly line.'
German lieder from Wilhelm Pfeiffer, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... to hear this fine music performed with consummate artistry and fidelity to these composers' wishes I can only suggest you look elsewhere.'
Beethoven and Clement violin concertos, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... Barton-Pine's faultlessly sculpted performance is unequivocally persuasive ...'
Hindson, Corigliano and Liszt played by Lara St John, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'As the grinding sounds of industry and sweeping whoosh of turbine blades recede, St John distances her tone for the central lyrical episode ...'
Music by Jeremy Beck, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... I cannot help but admire an unfamiliar creative talent displaying assured composition while simultaneously avoiding atonality, minimalism, aleatory follies, electronics, musique concrète or the murky waters of crossover-ism.'
Hebrew music from violinist Maurice Sklar, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Sklar's inspirational concert is faithful from start to finish.'
The Meridian Arts Ensemble, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... an unusually broad span of inspired composition.'
Enrique Graf plays Bach, Mendelssohn and Mussorgsky, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... bold exhilaration and striking poetry.'
String quartets by British composers, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... the Kreutzer Quartet brings a faultless degree of unanimity and understanding to this selection of late twentieth century string music.'
Music for flute and piano, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... eminently commendable.'
Music for cello and piano, recommended by the late Howard Smith. 'Inspired programming, stellar performances and excellent recorded sound ...'
Arensky and Taneyev for violin and orchestra, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... Gringolts shows both purity of line and precise, mercurial bravura.'
Herwig Zack, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Others are more brilliant but few, if any, more powerful.'
Kelly Hall-Tompkins' violin recital, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... a sparkling account ...'
A piano recital by Stephen Hough, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... music from the sublime to the Antipodean.'
Music for flute, played by Samantha Chang, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... captivating performances ...'
Temirzhan Yerzhanov plays Prokofiev, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... idiosyncratic, superbly delineated invention and precise harmonic intuition.'
Death and the Maiden for orchestra, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... Falletta and her Buffalo team cannot be faulted ...'
Mainstreet Brass, enjoyed by the late Howard Smith. 'An exhilirating brass ensemble in a theatrical range of moods; you really can't go wrong.'
British music for flute and piano, enjoyed by the late Howard Smith. 'Smith and Rhodes present definitive, warmly recorded performances of this gorgeous, all-UK repertory, some of it apparently on disc for the first time.'
Telemann in the French style, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'The distinguished musicians of the Hanoverian Ensemble display a characteristic eighteenth century affinity of expression that Telemann's urbane work requires.'
Clara Rodriguez plays Moisés Moleiro, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... dazzling, undemanding musical enjoyment ...'
Rikke Sandberg plays Rachmaninov, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... most clearly true to the spirit of the music ...'
Music by Alexander Feht impressed the late Howard Smith. 'There can be few, if any, Russian songs of equal calibre fashioned in the Colorado Rockies.'
Brahms' Hungarian Dances, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Kantorski and Pope ... are treading on thin ice ...'
Red Priest's 'Pirates of the Baroque', heard by the late Howard Smith. 'The foursome are outrageous, hugely entertaining, and Red Priest take no prisoners.'
Panayiotis Demopoulos plays Liszt, Beethoven and Demopoulos, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... adroitly articulated and intelligently moulded: a study in progress.'
Romantic music for piano four hands impressed the late Howard Smith. '... Buccheri and Boldrey convey the demanding score with spellbinding assurance.'
Carnival music for piano, recommended by the late Howard Smith. 'Goldstone unravels Schumann's variegated vignettes with outstanding technical precision and startling intellectual probity ...'
Banjo music by Mark Sylvester, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... finally, I found myself caught up by Sylvester's engagingly complex work.'
Ulrich Heinen plays Bach and twentieth century composers, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'This snappy title with its hints of España and whimsical echoes of theatre is nailed to perfection by Heinen, as are all five modern works within the programme.'
Music for strings by Domenico Dragonetti, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'John Feeney reveals double bass capabilities required of a symphony orchestra's lowest strings once in a blue moon.'
Margo Guryan's 'Chopsticks Variations', enthusiastically recommended by the late Howard Smith. 'Ideal for family fun/enjoyment, for all young music students and for elementary level pianists in particular.'
Contemporary music for solo violin, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Koh is magnificent in this devilish smorgasbord of chords, harmonics and subdued left hand pizzicato interjections ...'
Music by Marshall, Bryars and Pärt, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... refreshing immediacy and striking originality ...'
Angela East on the rocks, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... she clearly gives serious, if misguided attention, to matters of baroque scholarship.'
Cameron Roberts' piano transcriptions, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'The novelty value of this crystal clear recording can hardly be denied.'
Choral music by Morten Lauridsen, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... the Elora Festival Singers perform securely in an unblemished recording.'
Robert Meyer's 'Discovering the Double Bass', heard by the late Howard Smith. '... a rare and welcome initiative ...'
Robert Meyer's 'The Bottom Line', recommended by the late Howard Smith
Rachel and Vanessa Fuidge at one and two pianos, recommended by the late Howard Smith. '... technique, tonal address and aural poetry.'
Chinese recorder concerti, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... a treat awaits you.'
Chamber music by Franz Mittler, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Both string performers ... prove excellent advocates for this full-blooded music.'
A guitar recital by Sergio Puccini, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... played here to the manner born.'
Jerry Wong plays Prokofiev, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... Wong characterizes the contrasting moods unerringly.'
Burkard Schliessmann, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... seldom less than impressive ...'
Seventeenth century Italian solo sonatas, admired by the late Howard Smith. '... Caudle's irreproachable grasp ... invites admiration throughout ...'
The horn playing of Dennis Brain, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... a sheer delight ...'
Cantata for the Children of Terezin, recommended by the late Howard Smith. '... all the authority and seriousness a topic of this magnitude deserves.'
Fiona and John York play Stravinsky, Ravel and Debussy, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... worthy of the highest recommendation.'
Maria João Pires plays Mozart, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... an exactitude and classical stylishness that beggars criticism ...'
Jean Yves Thibaudet plays Chopin, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... this revival of early Thibaudet performances is consistently satisfying.'
Eighteenth century gallery hymns, recommended by the late Howard Smith. '... direct, unassuming religiosity.'
A piano recital by Jeremy Eskenazi, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... evident affinity with music requiring rapid rippling imagery and astute tonal control.'
Contemporary music for soprano, violin and piano impressed the late Howard Smith. '... remarkable balance, clarity and sensitivity.'
Elizabeth Moak plays Judith Lang Zaimont, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... a stature of compelling merit.'
Quartetto Gelato's Musica Latina, welcomed by the late Howard Smith. '... high octane commitment to the entire programme.'
Music by David Kechley impressed the late Howard Smith. 'Stimulating, unpretentious, singularly different.'
Eighth Blackbird's 'Meanwhile', heard by the late Howard Smith. '... an ear-catching feather in Cedille's musical cap.'
J S Bach and contemporaries on the double bass, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'These New York performers bring a welcome change ...'
Music by Osias Wilenski, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Lauded for his compositional style, Wilenski's unique works range from narrative symphonic poems and operatic spin-offs to instrumental miniatures.'
Hafabra's 'Light Music Vol 3', heard by the late Howard Smith. 'The performances are adequate as one may expect ...'
A recital by Rebecca Newman, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'The singer's voice is firm with secure intonation ...'
Maria Luigia Borsi sings Italian arias, recommended by the late Howard Smith. '... outstanding in every respect.'
Canadian-born harpist Katrina Szederkényi, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... truly magnificent ...'
The British vocal octet Voces8, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... a luminous selection of pieces spanning over four hundred years ...'
Piano music by film composers, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... Cheng is clearly at ease ...'
Piano trios by Saint-Saëns, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... tonal variance and measured passion ...'
Bridge Chamber Virtuosi, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'From start to finish, an exhilarating recording.'
Piano music by Lionel Sainsbury, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... fine thematic content and impressive technical address.'
Korngold's 'The Adventures of Robin Hood', impresses the late Howard Smith. 'The Moscow players appear right at home with this rousing score ...'
Eighteenth century lied, recommended by the late Howard Smith. '... lucid, expressive variety.'
Poulenc for winds and piano. 'MSR's combination of Poulenc wind music is unlike any other.'
Vaughan Williams and MacMillan oboe concertos. '... superb performances ideally recorded.'
The latest in Cala Records' 'London Sound' series. '... music of surpassing excellence.'
Rossini's 'Semiramide'. '... traditional elements alongside innovative ones.'
Haydn and Debussy from Masahiro Yamaguchi. 'I was agreeably surprised at Masahiro's sparkling clarity ...'
Music by Bruce Babcock. '... consistently distinctive and unfailingly proficient.'
An-Ting Chang's 'Water Image'. '... highlighting the theatrical and audio possibilities of nineteenth century piano music ...'
Red Priest's 'Handel in the Wind'. '... Piers Adams riding the surf at breakneck speed.'
Piano music by Klement Slavický. '... excellently performed and produced.'
Halida Dinova brings her Liszt to New Zealand
English music for strings. '... a gorgeous new release from Naxos ...'
Fauré, Schumann and Bartók from the Jade Duo. '... high-powered performances ...'
Kim Cook plays French music for cello and orchestra. '... a musician to be reckoned with.'
Music by Maurice Jacobson. '... I'd recommend this Naxos release wholeheartedly.'
Ivan Ilic plays Scriabin and American music. '... eight tracks of acceptable Scriabin ...'
Baroque premieres. '... Udagawa reveals its melodic character to the full.'
Weinberg's Symphony No 4 and Violin Concerto. '... seductive timbre and technical mastery ...'
Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel for piano duet. '... these performances will fulfill the highest technical expectations.'
Elgar from Petrenko and the RLPO. '... our Liverpool Orchestra is every bit the equal of its fine London counterparts ...'
Music for guitar and oboe / cor anglais. 'Zoco Duo's instrumental skills are beyond reproach ...'
Hideko Udagawa plays Brahms and Bruch. '... a firmly nourished tone ...'
Music for violin and piano by Xavier Montsalvatge. '... brilliant, clear and individualistic.'
Music for Lent and Easter. '... excellent musical standards and high technical achievements ...'
Orchestral music by Barbara Harbach. '... the LPO is wholly admirable in this music ...'
Poulenc ballet suites for piano. '... clearly at ease with Poulenc's soft-core tonality ...'
Andrei Korobeinikov plays Scriabin. '... vividly performed ...'
Music performed by A Far Cry. '... evidently capable hands ...'
Tien Hsieh plays Bach and Beethoven. '... a distinctive robust architecture ...'
Viola sonatas by Gál and Krenek. '... remarkable high standards.'
Robert Still's four string quartets. 'Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.'
Piano music by Delius, Bax, Vaughan Williams and Bridge. 'Commanding resolute performances of music arisen from harrowing conflict.'
Violin Sonatas by Copland and Zeisl. '... Schiff has developed as fair and sweet an approximation of her Olympian mentor as one may reasonably expect.'
Russian music from SWR Vokalensemble. '... a gift for those eager to hear voices in chorus ...'
Mahler 2 for double piano duet. '... secure professionalism and laudable aplomb.'
Asian music for string quartet. '... an exemplary, highly recommendable release.'
Abbado's Brahms German Requiem. '... a front runner in this work.'
Music by Kevin Malone. '... a fantastical carnival of sound, style and social critique.'
Music for string quartet by William Zinn. '... the string writing is outstanding in its proficiency.'
Hampson Sisler's 'The Second Coming'. '... fine Bulgarian performance ...'
The New Zealand String Quartet
The Beatles for string quartet. 'The four Wihan players ... give this disc their best shot.'
Dohnányi's Symphony No 2 and rarely heard songs. '... beautifully sung by Buffalo baritone Evan Thomas Jones ...'
Ancient Irish songs about sleep. '... conspicuous authenticity.'
Marina Piccinini plays Paganini. '... hypnotic interpretative gifts ...'
Haydn's 'Die Schöpfung' in Wellington, New Zealand
Jean Muller plays Liszt. '... Muller tackles the exacting Trancendental Etudes with enormous technical address ...'
The Apollo Chamber Players. '... this scantily adorned traditional music derives straight from the heartbeat of regions in Southern, Eastern, and Central Europe.'
Music by Hope Wechkin. '... idiosyncratic, evocative and deeply committed ...'
Contemporary music for cello. '... Marinescu ... appears to have the measure of each work on offer here.'
Music for cello and piano. '... affectionately presented throughout.'
Piano music by Schubert and Thomas Osborne. 'Derek Kealii Polischuk ... handles the Schubert D 935 Impromptus with considerable assurance.'
Classical-dance fusion. 'Councell-Vargas performs all the pieces with flair.'
Slovenian flute music. '... advanced, imaginative, exhilarating, jubilant and utterly irrepressible.'
Music improvised by Sophie Harris. '... clear qualities ...'
Sacred choral music by Poulenc. 'Harmonia mundi has struck oil ...'
Gwendolyn Mok plays Brahms. '... Mok falls short of Julius Katchen's flair ...'
Music from China and the USA. '... less conclusive ...'
Joseph Summer's Shakespeare Concerts Series. '... immediately expressive.'
Piano trios from the 1890s. '... compelling feeling and technical assurance ...'
Music for cello and guitar. '... the entire concert is alive with a myriad textual and sonic possibilities.'
Shostakovich and Schnittke string quartets. '... vivid sonic immediacy.'
Amy Porter plays J S Bach Cello Suites. '... fluent and uniformly pleasing.'
Opera transcriptions for piano. '... illuminating performances ...'
Gerard Schurmann's chamber music. '... potent, consuming, thematically cogent and burning with zeal.'
Halida Dinova plays music for children. '... palpable finesse.'
Brahms' German Requiem. '... searching depth and abiding consolation ...'
Jennifer Koh and Jamie Laredo. 'This new performance ... undoubtedly earns a place ...'
Music for seafarers. '... a lot to recommend it ...'
Howard Smith reviews the career of Alexander Ivashkin, who died in January 2014
Brahms chamber music. '... Walther-Korevaar-Fejér are exemplary in all three works.'
Yoon-Hee Kim plays Khachaturian and Tchaikovsky. '... she appears to lack the aural muscle of others ...'
Music by Karl Fiorini. '... edgy, demanding works ...'
Russian choral music. '... wholly satisfying and consistently worshipful.'
Marta Bagratuni plays and sings. '... music of notable sensitivity and fine tonality.'
Armenian music. '... South Caucasian music performed by a team of its best authenticated exponents.'
Composers displaced by the Third Reich. '... piano music of singular merit.'
Music for two cellos. '... riveting effect.'
Estonian folk hymns and runic songs. '... enduring, limitless appeal.'
Skrowaczewski conducts Brahms. '... Brahms' sonic architecture is overlooked.'
Ravel's operas. '... these concise aesthetic works stand out on DVD ...'
'Die Zauberflöte' from Bregenz. '... sparkling cast ...'
Christmas music from Voces 8. '... breathtaking clarity.'
Sue Addison plays Elgar's own trombone. 'Recommended without hesitation.'
Britten's 'Peter Grimes' at Teatro alla Scala. '... a welcome centenary release.'
Music by Fredrick Kaufman. 'Gekic, Drobinsky and the three conductors do excellently ...'
Edvard Grieg's symphonic music. '... spoilt for choice.'
Wendy Warner plays Haydn and Myslivecek. '... her beguiling performances are alive with consistent ebullience ...'
Orchestral music by Ignacy Dobrzynski. 'The concerto ... is ebullient and brilliantly served by Emilian Madey.'
Howard Smith describes the Serbian pianist's return to New Zealand
Music by Gershwin and David Nisbet Stewart. '... Stewart's impressive Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.'
Music by Hindemith for viola and piano. '... among the most fulfilling instrumental CDs I have encountered ...'
La Nuova Musica's Vivaldi and Handel. '... recommendable for its baroque verisimilitude and clarity.'
Violin lullabies from Rachel Barton Pine. '... soporific, inescapable uniformity.'
John Rutter from Tewkesbury. '... strikingly effective ...'
Orchestral music by Eugene Zádor. 'The Budapest Symphony Orchestra MÁV glows in this adjunct to Tinseltown.'
Jennifer Koh plays Bach and more. '... divine, finely-spun tone ...'
Chamber music by Kurt Rohde. '... dramatic and powerfully intimate.'
Music for viola and piano by women composers. '... each woman would be delighted ...'
Berlioz overtures. '... commendable intuition and skillfulness ...'
'Didone Abbandonata' by Johann Hasse. 'Michael Hofstetter directs a consistently dramatic, high tensile performance.'
Music by Karabits and Silvestrov. 'Another enterprising feather in Naxos' richly plumaged cap.'
Music by victims of the Nazi death camps. 'Worth its weight and then some, in Euros.'
Quartets by Ravel, Debussy and Saint-Saëns. '[Quatuor Modigliani] attack it with some vehemence.'
Music by composers in Theresienstadt. 'The Nash players' programme is presented with their customary aplomb ...'
Orchestral music by Michael Mauldin. '... the Moravian ensemble sounds rather congested.'
Enescu cello sonatas. '... perfectly rounded and the intonation irreproachable.'
Musical stories for narrator and orchestra. 'Prokofiev, Britten and Dukas slot together to vivid effect.'
Tine Thing Helseth and Kathryn Stott. 'Ever full of daring ...'
Sibelius symphonies. '... an important enterprise ...'
Inesa Sinkevych plays Schubert. '... pleasingly enterprising.'
Stephen Sondheim's 'Sweeney Todd'. 'A "killer diller" on all counts.'
A recital by Elaine Huckle. '... her tonal resources are robust and the delivery pleasingly straightforward.'
Maurice Ravel's orchestral music. '... gently hypnotic ...'
Songs inspired by Billy Collins. 'The florid accompaniment with piano trio seemed wholly apt to me.'
Songs, ballads and rondos based on Haydn. '... unfailingly practiced in late eighteenth century performing style ...'
Joseph Rackers' debut recording. '"Eureka" moments ... are conspicuous by their absence.'
British music for piano duo. '... Mercury emerges with captivating ethereal qualities.'
A recital by Charlotte de Rothschild. '... consistently reliable ...'
Music for cello, piano and Korean drums. 'Greenberg's sonata ... deserves a recognized place in the cello and piano repertory.'
Smetana, Dvorák and Freddie Mercury. '... performances to bask in.'
Orchestral music by Witold Lutoslawski. '... played with conspicuous élan ...'
Christmas music from the Vasari Singers, unstintingly. '... exemplary radiant style and élan ...'
The Benaud Trio. '... a CD of exceptional providence.'
The Taylor Festival Choir. '... irresistible verve and clarity.'
J S Bach's Christmas Oratorio. '... musically reliable ...'
Richard Hickox's 'Light of Life'. '... Chandos/Hickox win hands down.'
Excerpts from 'The Ring' down under. '... sonic excellence.'
Opera Australia's 'La bohème'. '... Park is suitably distraught ...'
Paul Dean plays Brahms and Schumann. '... look no further.'
Bach arrangements for string trio. '... their adroit three-part Baroque 'dovetailing' never lapsed ...'
Liszt-Wagner piano paraphrases. 'Fisch performs these transcriptions with striking clarity and communicative sensitivity.'
Music by Handel from Ludus Baroque. '... robust, spring-heeled performances ...'
Australian soprano Nance Grant. '... an exceptional voice seldom heard beyond local shores.'
Tom Collier plays vibraphone and marimba. '... hear classics from a new, fascinating standpoint ...'
A tribute to violinist Ralph Holmes. '... an invigorating spontaneity ...'
Symphonic poems for piano duet. '... evocatively and thrillingly conveyed by Goldstone and Clemmow.'
Music from Tyneside and beyond. '... a rich cavalcade of internationally known and local singers ...'
Music by Patricia Morehead. '... shifting depiction of battleground lunacy.'
Satie, Glass, Feldman and Schubert. '... amiable verve ...'
J S Bach transcriptions for piano four hands. '... modern yet familiar.'
J S Bach sonatas for violin and harp. '... unconventional duo performances ...'
Songs by American composers. '... likeable off-Broadway expertise.'
Maxwell Davies' Symphony No 2. '... dynamic in all respects.'
Elena Kuschnerova plays Schumann. '... sparkling vivacity and palpable ardour.'
Thibault Cauvin's travels in China. '... a catalogue of missed opportunities.'
Schumann from the Nash Ensemble. '... the ensemble seems incapable of turning a single dull phrase.'
Shostakovich and Prokofiev string quartets. '... flawless technical address and heartfelt aim ...'
Schubert late string quartets. '... as good as it gets.'
Music by Lisa Miles. '... intriguingly addictive.'
Bartók duos for two violins. '... impressive credentials ...'
John McCabe plays his own 'Tenebrae'. '... imbued with anger and monumental in both structure and outlook ...'
American double concertos. '... both shapely and thought-provoking.'
Music for violin and piano by Gerard Schurmann. 'Excellent from start finish.'
Modern music from the Kreutzer Quartet. '... whimsical, fickle and modernistic ...'
A song recital by Monica Harte. '... thoughtful finesse and subtlety ...'
Flautist Lisa Friend's debut disc. '... pleasing and ideally accomplished.'
Benjamin Yusupov's 'Viola Tango Rock Concerto'. 'The work has a substance and impact that took me quite by storm.'
Forma Antiqva meets Vivaldi. '... an 'off-the-wall' take on Le quattro stagioni ...'
Catherine Gordeladze's Kapustin études and preludes. '... truly original works ...'
Quartets by Roger Reynolds and Peter Lieberson. 'These performances can hardly be faulted ...'
A recital by Simone Leitão. '... diverse rhythms and trenchant physicality are commandingly observed ...'
Jenny McLeod's new opera 'Hohepa'
Beethoven's early string quartets. 'Unquestionably seminal performances ...'
Schubert chamber music. '... expressive breadth and glorious refinement.'
Recent music for viola and piano. '... keen, committed musicianship.'
Isabelle Faust plays Berg and Beethoven. '... alive with dancing quicksilver and spring-heeled agility.'
A Stravinsky tale for children confuses Howard Smith. '... convoluted to say the least.'
Francis Gouton's solo cello. '... a richly nuanced Gallic flair and beautiful tonal capabilities ...'
Michala Petri and the Danish National Vocal Ensemble. 'Don't miss it.'
Shostakovich and contemporaries. '... little to quibble at ...'
Neglected scores by Saint-Saëns. 'Not to be missed.'
Cyprien Katsaris plays Liszt. '... seismic and mercurial by turns ...'
J S Bach keyboard concertos. '... stunning aeration ...'
Michel D'Alberto plays Schubert. '... contagious buoyancy and affection.'
Music by Steven Mackey. '... eighth blackbird manage its musical complexities without a trace of demurring.'
Chamber arrangements of Mahler and Debussy. '... a highly skilled, finely rehearsed unit.'
Hélène Grimaud plays Rachmaninov. '... glowing drive and triumphant resolve.'
Orchestral music by Howard Hanson. '... Schwarz ... is second to none.'
Schubert from the Tokyo Quartet. '... a great deal in their favour ...'
The Nativity story told through music. '... a balanced and fulfilling listening experience.'
Hermine Haselböck sings Mahler lieder. '... on a par with legendary German mezzo Christa Ludwig ...'
Zemlinsky and Messiaen from Ensemble Liaison. 'Melba's spot-on quartet recording ... fares brilliantly ...'
The nylon-string guitar of Tony R Clef. '... extraordinary recorded clarity.'
A recital by Amber Yiu-Hsuan Liao. '... often engaging and perfectly serviceable.'
English music by Hurd, Milford and Blackford. '... an ideal approach in music of pastoral character.'
Music for solo violin and viola. '... an urbane, ear-catching sound.'
Russian music for cello and piano. '... much here to praise ...'
The Hoffnung Music Festival Concert. '... though these show their age, the sound remains adequate.'
Chamber music by Craig Madden Morris. '... Kwak is a more than capable soloist ...'
Toscanini's Verdi Requiem from Carnegie Hall. '... I find the 1951 adrenalin rush positively exhilarating.'
Paul Galbraith plays Mozart, Bach and Britten. '... palpable, near-orchestral grandeur.'
Dave Lee and friends' horn-centred pot pourri. '... positively mesmerizing ...'
Latin music from Rachel Barton Pine. '... immaculate, relaxed, resonant performances ...'
Piano trios by Weinberg and Shostakovich. '... notable gusto ...'
Music by David Jephcott. '... drastically short on musical fibre.'
Jocelyn Swigger plays American piano music. '... bold dissonances, conveyed with commanding assurance.'
'Cavalleria Rusticana' and 'I Pagliacci' at New Zealand Opera
The Canterbury Cellos
A buoyant divertissement of eclectic items. '... a true delight ...'
Cheryl Barker pays tribute to Joan Hammond. '... four recital items have the ideal accompanist in Timothy Young ...'
Michelangeli plays Beethoven, Galuppi and Scarlatti. 'His relentless perfectionism allows him spellbinding precision ...'
Biana Kovic's 'Virtuoso'. '... there's little new here at all.'
Ballets choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj. 'Apart from the galvanised buckets it's all effectively eye-catching ...'
A classic documentary with music by Copland. '... a fascinating picture of America ...'
'Aria - Special Edition'. 'You never know what you're gonna get.'
Gillian Rogell teaches chamber music, observed. 'It's all fairly basic stuff ...'
Choral music by Eriks Esenvalds, recommmended. '... exciting music of the utmost graciousness.'
Music by George Rochberg. '... an eloquent performance, effectively recorded.'
Beethoven Piano Concertos. '... worth a king's ransom.'
Halida Dinova plays music that tells stories. '... a mesmerising interpreter ...'
Leslie Howard plays Rachmaninov. '... a staggering technique.'
A recital by Gunnar Johansen. '... a floodtide of seismic power and romantic fervor ...'
Music by William Ferris. 'Well worth investigating.'
Joan Sutherland's debut recital. 'No other single disc has these historic performances.'
Music for clarinet, piano and cello. '... a fine recording ...'
The poetry of Anna Akhmatova. '... a cause for unstinting applause and praise.'
Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. '... a tumultuous, dynamic conclusion.'
Handel's 'Xerxes' in Wellington, New Zealand
Dejan Lazic plays Beethoven. '... a crisp, vernal, excellently deliniated performance ...'
Violin concertos by Vivaldi. '... reliable and persuasive ...'
Haydn, Hummel, Leopold Mozart and Neruda trumpet concertos. '... expect nothing but the best ...'
Jill Crossland plays Mozart and Beethoven. '... a distinctive, beautifully considered performance.'
Elena Kuschnerova plays J S Bach, selected. '... decisive and fresh as a dewfall.'
David Korevaar plays Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. '... lots to admire ...'
Chamber music by Mozart and Smetana. '... judged to perfection ...'
A new recording from Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble, exceeds Howard Smith's highest expectations. '... beyond criticism ...'
Elena Kuschnerova plays Musorgsky. '... superbly evocative ...'
Vidor Nagy plays Bach and Paganini. '... moments of splendour.'
Music by Stravinsky for violin and piano. '... refreshing naturalness ...'
Elena Kuschnerova plays Prokofiev. '... sparkling, lyrical and appropriately balletic ...'
Verdi's 'Macbeth' at New Zealand Opera
Music by Dohnányi. '... the Buffalonians ... make their virtuosity seem almost effortless ...'
As New Zealand arts funding strikes a sour note, Howard Smith listens to the Vector Wellington Orchestra
Music for violin and viola. 'Braun has a firm, bright, highly focused tone ...'
Balkan music for flute and guitar. '... a near perfect blend of timbre and balance ...'
Rózsa and Korngold violin concertos. '... breathtaking virtuosity from soloist and orchestra alike.'
The Wihan Quartet plays Beethoven. '... little to truly set their work apart ...'
The Wihan Quartet plays Dvorák. '... the finest of bravura chamber performances.'
Marin Alsop conducts Dvorák Symphonies. 'The Baltimores' finale sings and blazes with equal compulsion ...'
Music for flute and guitar. '... reflective and purposeful ...'
Light music from Turkey. '... colourful, exotic and hugely entertaining ...'
Music by Koechlin and Jongen. '... a truly outstanding recital ...'
Jonathan Plowright plays Chopin. '... positively hair-raising.'
Judith Lambden plays J S Bach. '... a great deal to admire ...'
Aidan Lang's 'The Marriage of Figaro'
Paganini caprices arranged for string quartet. '... technically cluttered.'
Tanja Becker-Bender plays Paganini. '... sparkling clarity and power ...'
J S Bach and a single popping cork. '... riven with eccentricities ...'
William Appling plays Joplin and Bach. '... consistently four square, honest, unpretentious ...'
Murray McLachlan plays music by Shostakovich and friends. '... an outright triumph for the label and for McLachlan.'
Songs by Gregg Kallor. 'Go to the top of the class.'
Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. '... vital technical flair ...'
Jonathan Dove's 'The Adventures of Pinocchio'. '... considerable merits on display ...'
J S Bach's St Matthew Passion. '... the Ex Cathedra performance is a triumph.'
Wendy Warner's interpretations of Popper and Piatigorsky. '... sovereign music-making deserving of the highest accolades.'
Chamber music by Robert Schumann. '... the performances suffer from a worrying anemia ...'
Van Beinum conducts Mahler. '... a tad less frenetic ...'
James Tibbles plays J S Bach. '... worthy of widespread international recognition.'
Historical English Christmas music. '... sheer "joie de vivre" ...'
Carols from Westminster Abbey. '... gravity-defying buoyancy.'
Music for unaccompanied violin. '... searching performance ...'
Washington Symphonic Brass. '... a programme deserving of sustained applause and huge admiration.'
Music for violin, cello and piano. '... beautiful, technically accomplished playing ...'
Latin music from Quartet San Francisco. '... constantly alive to dynamic nuances and lyrical subtleties ...'
Rachel Barton Pine's tribute to Maud Powell. '... irresistible artistry ...'
Jennifer Larmore sings Barber, Berlioz, Ravel and Britten. '... a compelling disc ...'
Music by Mozart and Mendelssohn. '... a truly idiomatic performance ...'
Baroque music for cello. 'An exemplary CD ...'
New Zealand Opera's 'Eugene Onegin'
Music by Gershwin for piano and orchestra. '... commendable drive and clarity.'
Steve Davislim sings Vierne and Chausson. 'I cannot think of higher praise.'
A sampler from Cedille Records. '... top quality standards.'
Howard Smith was at the last Vector Wellington Orchestra programme engineered by Christine Pearce
J S Bach organ sonatas. '... an immensely satisfying conclusion.'
Music for bassoon, harpsichord and double bass. '... an outright "tour de force".'
Beethoven from The Nash Ensemble. '... a class of its own.'
Howard Smith attends New Zealand's Music Fair of Japan 2009
Red Priest's 'Nightmare in Venice', entertains Howard Smith. '... irrepressible, chic ...'
Schnittke and Ginastera from the Choir of St Ignatius Loyola. 'Not quite what one might expect.'
Chamber music by Marjan Mozetich. '... "Hymn of Ascension" stood out for its power and cogency.'
John Hardy's 'Blue Letters from Tanganyika'. '... colorful, filmic, and open to pleasurable listening ...'
Rossini's 'Italian Girl in Algiers'
Howard Smith comments on Alberto Portugheis' recent publication
Debussy transcriptions. '... these alternatives are never less than striking ...'
Kurt Masur and others conduct Mendelssohn. '... too often short on graciousness, charm or buoyancy.'
Benjamin Britten folksong arrangements. '... this release is worth several times it's weight in gold.'
Maxwell Davies' Naxos Quartets 9 and 10, applauded. '... much to admire ...'
Music for horn and orchestra. '... stunning breath control and consummate understanding ...'
A new recording of Schubert's 'Winterreise'. '... Steve Davislim and Anthony Romaniuk have earned a place among the highest achievers ...'
Mozart works for clarinet. '... Paul Dean demonstrates his exemplary fluency ...'
Boston String Quartet's 'Xibus'. 'What all this signifies is not at all clear.'
A recital by Lin Jiang and Benjamin Martin. '... superbly performed.'
Songs with orchestra from Deborah Riedel. '... a bounteous seam of unfamiliar, wholly blissful vocal gems ...'
Choral music by Randall Thompson. '... performances and recording are exemplary throughout.'
Andrew Violette's Sonata for unaccompanied violin
The Icicle Creek Piano Trio. '... rhythmically brisk, considered performances ...'
The Sleeping Beauty. '... utterly enchanting ...'
Choral and orchestral music by Arthur Honegger. '... strikingly performed by Welsh forces ...'
Piano music by Frank Bridge. 'A standing ovation for Mark Bebbington ...'
Tangos and fantasies. '... good in parts.'
Music by Bazzini. '... Hanslip brings it off with suitable aplomb.'
Corigliano sets Dylan. 'Titanic, zealous stuff.'
Derek Jarman's 'War Requiem'. '... cutting room virtuosity.'
Tim Hugh and Olga Sitkovetsky at London's Wigmore Hall. '... breathtaking musicianship captured my attention ...'
Howard Smith was at Janácek's 'Jenufa' in Wellington
Music by Spohr, Rolla and Kalliwoda. '... seasoned insights and faultless empathy.'
Halida Dinova plays Brahms. 'A truly distinguished performance and recording ...'
Piano music by Ahmet Adnan Saygun. '... unfailing rhythmic clarity and beautifully controlled dynamics ...'
John Suchet's 'The Treasures of Beethoven'
Rachmaninov's Vespers. '... marvellous tonal exactitude, pellucid control, superb diction ...'
Kevin Sullivan's 'Magic Flute Diaries'. '... a "rag-bag" of special effects and Mozartian absurdities ...'
Chamber music by Roger Smalley. '... the performance may be regarded as definitive.'
Bach, Mozart and Beethoven from the Vector Wellington Orchestra
Hansel and Gretel in New Zealand
Forgotten music by Saint-Saëns. '... a performance of avowed committment.'
Quartets by Evans, Glass, Antheil and Herrmann. '... wholly engaging ...'
Modern American music for violin and piano. '... commanding fire and finesse ...'
Puccini's 'La bohème' at New Zealand Opera
A concert by the Amici Ensemble, renjoyed
Works by Respighi. '... impressively alive to each facet of Respighi's aural colourations ...'
Music by Bloch, Engel, Honegger, Milhaud and Szymanowski. '... an acceptable though rather dated style.'
Opera fantasies for violin. '... engaging musical finesse.'
Stephen De Pledge returns to New Zealand
Choral music by Cecilia McDowall. '... clarity and conviction.'
Music for violin and piano by Ma Sicong. '... thoroughly enjoyable ...'
Amorous music by Purcell. '... glorious song with inspirational accompaniments.'
Peter Dawson favourites from Gregory Yurisch and the Tasmanian Symphony. '... in this repertoire they hardly miss a trick.'
Symphonies by Albert Roussel. '... clarity, focus and sheer ambience.'
Music by Thomas Fortmann. 'Thomas Fortmann has achieved what repeatedly eludes others ...'
The Nobilis Trio at Steinway Hall. '... musically pleasurable.'
Shostakovich's Symphony No 10, chosen. '... the results are very special.'
Vocal music by Puccini. '... more than sufficient ... to recommend unstintingly ...'
Christopher Nupen's films about Andrés Segovia. '... a quiet, heaven-sent artistry ...'
Arias by Massenet. '... immeasurable lyric flair ...'
Ganelin Trio Priority live in Vilnius. 'Jazz in Lithuania has never looked back.'
A 'Magic Flute' for children. '... a very special production ...'
Down under with the Wellington Orchestra
Orchestral music by Bechara El-Khoury. '... a valuable addition ...'
Jennifer Koh plays Schumann. '... superbly accomplished performances ...'
Elena Kuschnerova plays Stravinsky. '... unrivalled.'
Sheila Silver's 'The Thief of Love'. '... music of great beauty.'
János Starker plays Bartók, Boccherini, Kodály, Mozart and Leo Weiner. '... instrumental artistry at its finest.'
Recordings from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's 2006 Festival. '... bold, arresting, re-creative performances ...'
Howard Smith reads an 'owner's manual' of Sibelius orchestral works
Flute sonatas by the eight-year-old Mozart. '... superb advocacy ...'
Tony Palmer tells the story of Shostakovich. '... a landmark among 20th century cinema documents.'
Svetlanov conducts Rachmaninov. '... Svetlanov's affinity with Rachmaninov's daring idioms is always apparent.'
Music by Saint-Saëns. 'The LPO is in peak condition ...'
A brief history of the Salzburg Festival. '... mandatory viewing!'
A benefit concert for the Kitezh Children's Community. '... Berkofsky tailors the accompaniments with demonstrable taste and empathy.'
Remus Azoitei plays Enescu. '... a truly commanding performance.'
Masao Ohki's 'Hiroshima Symphony'. 'A blistering 2005 performance ...'
Music by Max Bruch. '... unruffled, reasonably considered, technically secure ...'
David L Nelson on Vienna
Music by Paul Schwartz. '... consistently pleasing, somewhat innocuous, easy sounds ...'
Oboe concertos played by Andrea Gullickson. '... highly recommended ...'
Music by Lera Auerbach and Shostakovich. '... unfailing virtuosity.'
Leila Josefowicz plays Shostakovich. '... her tightrope assurance is breathtaking.'
Groove-oriented chamber music by Gernot Wolfgang. '... highly professional performances ...'
Paul Calistus-Ashley plays Poulenc, Schubert and Dett. '... verve and sensitivity.'
Choral music by Lepo Sumera. '... performances with these forces are undoubtedly authoritative ...'
Russian Romantic songs. '... magically touching musicianship ...'
Music by Haskell Small and Mussorgsky. '... indisputably fine pianism ...'
Stokowski symphonic transcriptions. '... an unqualified testament to Stokowski's magic.'
A concert by the Aroha String Quartet
A recital by Mikhail Zemtsov
Down with the bow and up with the baton - Howard Smith talks to Evgeny Bushkov
Many strings to his bow ... Howard Smith reports on Marat Bisengaliev's third tour of New Zealand
M Owen Lee's book 'The Great Instrumental Works'
Bartók, Bernstein and Gershwin from the Pekinel Sisters. '... positively 'aerodynamic' in its clarity, audacity and panache.'
José Serebrier conducts Glazunov. '... the Scottish players bring appropriate breadth and commitment ...'
Songs of Jewish life. '... calm and delight to perfection ...'
Music by Roumi Petrova. '... splendid performances from start to finish.'
Alexander Balanescu pays homage to Romanian folk singer Maria Tanase. '... exquisitely accomplished.'
Vadim Gluzman plays Schnittke, Pärt, Vasks and Kancheli
Alexa Still and the NGC Wellington Sinfonia
The daughter of a Christchurch actress fights church duplicity in Moscow
Music by Tüür, Sibelius and Rachmaninov
Daniel Hope plays Mozart
Khazak police on the beat at the second Uralsk International Violin Competition. Howard Smith tells the story
Howard Smith describes Lygia O'Riordan's quest to bring Handel's masterpiece to Eastern Russia
Howard Smith listens to Serbian pianist Sonja Radojkovic in New Zealand
The story of STROMA
A bizarre story from Moscow
A triumphant homecoming in Kazakhstan
Howard Smith writes about one of the most important and celebrated composers working today
Howard Smith tells the story of the New Zealand String Quartet's well-kept Hungarian secret