It was a bittersweet Sunday as pianist Michael Houstoun finished the last of his Beethoven reCYCLE concerts in Napier. The evening was shared with old friends and new ones. Kimberley Stephenson, a classical music lover and a newbie to our concerts was there for the big finale…
I might as well start with a confession: I have no musical talent to speak of. My love affair with classical music began several years ago when I attended an exhibition at The Dowse Art Museum titled The Enchanted Forest, which showcased an exquisite selection of dance costumes alongside short clips of the performances. My first trip to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet in action soon followed, leading me in turn to attend performances by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Vector Wellington Orchestra.
Having enjoyed all of these experiences, I jumped at the opportunity to attend my first chamber music performance – programme seven of concert pianist Michael Houstoun’s Beethoven reCycle tour. Held at the Century Theatre, which forms part of the newly reopened MTG Hawke’s Bay complex in Napier, the concert did not disappoint.
Commanding the stage, Houstoun brought to life five of Beethoven’s rich and engaging compositions with great skill and feeling. Playing all of the pieces entirely from memory (a massive feat in its own right!), it was awe-inspiring to watch how he was able to communicate such a wide range of emotions using only a single instrument. The climax of the show, Sonata No 32 in C Minor, Opus 111, was certainly a highlight, the richness and complexity of the work a testament not only to the composer, but to Houstoun’s great skill as a pianist.
As with all great performances, I left the theatre looking forward to attending future concerts hosted by Chamber Music New Zealand. Bring on the 2014 programme!
– Kimberley, 13.10.2013