November 18, 2023

Media highlights from Gemma New’s New Zealand Symphony Orchestra performances with Anne-Sophie Mutter

The Post wrote:

“There could be no complaints about the performances of Williams’s film works. In fact hearing them arrayed together in this way revealed new dimensions. I hadn’t realised, for instance, just how charmingly American his music is: heard en masse, it has the direct warmth, the boldness and the confidence that one finds in, say, Gershwin.”

“This was especially evident in the piece “Adventures on Earth” from E.T., where conductor Gemma New had the NZ Symphony Orchestra playing with a featherlight touch and astonishing clarity of execution, and in “Flight to Neverland” from the film Hook, which had the true sweep and dash of adventure.”

“Mutter rejoined the orchestra for a further series of hits, displaying a playful technique in “The Duel” from The Adventures of Tintin, while the keening theme from The Long Goodbye seemed to plead like a human voice.”

“Her last act was to dedicate the theme from Schindler’s List to the victims of the ‘terrible wars’ now taking place around the globe. Her playing – poignant, tender, graceful – was a fitting tribute.”

NZ Herald wrote:

“Mutter’s partnership with American film composer John Williams has created a most marketable package, placing his Violin Concerto No. 2 among assorted shorter pieces of film music.”

“The orchestra’s opening and closing offerings from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Star Wars had faces glowing beatifically around me, and conductor Gemma New was fired up with the energy of the occasion.”

“The various short pieces were custom-scored for her talents. She dealt out rapier-like virtuosity in “The Duel” from The Adventures of Tintin and enjoyed underlining the quirky character of Harry Potter’s faithful owl Hedwig.”

“One could source musical influences and echoes, but Williams’ craftsmanship and Mutter’s artistry created a compelling cohesion. Especially so when hearts were laid bare in the expansive second movement, or when Mutter duetted generously with harpist Carolyn Mills, moved from the back ranks of the orchestra for this piece.”

Regional News wrote:

“At first glance the programme was predominantly film soundtracks, and it would have been easy to overlook the Violin Concerto No. 2 (New Zealand premiere) tucked between E.T. and the interval. However, it was utterly impossible to ignore a single note of the spectacular performance we were lucky enough to hear next.”

Anne-Sophie Mutter is a renowned violinist with a long career and, aged only 60, many years ahead of her. Mutter commissioned the Violin Concerto No. 2 from Williams and, in what must be a reflection of his respect and admiration for her talent and skill, it is technically hugely demanding, with achingly beautiful passages, fearsome cadenzas, and plenty of drama and atmosphere.”

“Mutter showed complete ease, total confidence, and absolute commitment to the music. Famed for her technique, she augmented and varied her tone brilliantly. The balance with the orchestra was perfect. New brought in the orchestra imperceptibly and with such cohesion it was impossible to tell sometimes where violin stopped and orchestra started.”