BEETHOVEN CONCERT 32 OF 40: The icing on the cake

Since the earthquakes in Christchurch our Cantabrian audiences have had to move from venue to venue for Chamber Music New Zealand’s concerts. And so for the final three performances of Michael Houstoun’s Beethoven reCYCLE series CMNZ was pleased to move into a new ‘home’ for the concerts – the Charles Luney Auditorium at St Margaret’s College, which will be the location for all of the events in 2014. Even more pleasing has been the response from audiences. Today’s blog post is from Christchurch subscribers Ken Booth and  Bee Bryant from their experience at the Les Adieux concert on the 28th October…


The new home for Chamber Music New Zealand in Christchurch, Charles Luney Auditorium at St Margaret's College.

The new home for Chamber Music New Zealand in Christchurch, Charles Luney Auditorium at St Margaret’s College.

What a wonderful solution to CMNZ’s venue problems in Christchurch. The Charles Luney Auditorium at St Margaret’s College is everything we could wish for. There is an uncluttered view of the stage; the acoustics are excellent; the soundboard over the stage ensures the sound goes throughout the auditorium; the seating is comfortable; there is no traffic noise; and there is plenty of room for those occasions when large crowds want to hear and see a special event.

Bee and I have just revelled in the last three recitals of Michael Houstoun’s Beethoven reCycle. That was sheer magic in itself, and we are so glad that he is committing the cycle to record. But to hear it all in that wonderful space was the icing on the cake. All the detail was audible, not just because of Michael’s playing, but because the audiorium made it so accessible to the listener. We could say lots about the delights and the depth of the interpretations of the sonatas in these last concerts, but what lingers most in both our minds and hearst are the ethereal and mysterious sounds Michael evoked from the final movement of the last sonata. It was just exquisite.

So, well done, CMNZ, for securing the venue for the next few years in Christchurch. The James Hay theatre was never wonderful – the sound could disappear backstage all too easily and the seating was cramped; Middleton Grange was fine, but too small for some events; the Cardboard Cathedral was a potential disaster from wind and road noise and it is uncomfortable. The new venue is ideal and we will be there with enthusiasm in 2014.

– Ken and Bee, 29.10.2013

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