Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auckland Choral at Auckland Town Hall 

 

Uwe Grodd.

That ardent Wagnerian, George Bernard Shaw, was no fan of the Brahms German Requiem, which he deemed "so execrably dull and ponderous that the very flattest of funerals would seem like a ballet, or at least a danse macabre after it".  

Auckland Choral put the lie to Shaw's smart sideswipe when its singers delivered the work on Saturday evening under the direction of Uwe Grodd. Major contributors to its success were the full symphonic forces of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, complete with the two harps Brahms asked for, and John Wells working his customary wonders at the organ.  

Grodd approached the score with an almost theatrical flair, using the original German text. One felt the inevitable momentum as the musicians progressed through Brahms' pages, from the dramatic build-up to the first choral entry to those final, serene F major chords on the word "selig" (blessed).  

Grodd approached the fringes of Mahlerian territory in Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras, and liberated the gentle, very Brahmsian waltz that lies sleeping in Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen.  

The choir responded with vigour throughout, even if the blend was occasionally on the raw side and sopranos were generally ill at ease in their upper register.  

Grant Dickson, singing the baritone solo without printed score, had taken Grodd's dramatic intentions to heart. This, as well as the sense of utter conviction he conveyed, almost made one overlook the distracting tremulous quality in the veteran's voice.  

Alongside him, Ileana Otto-Johansen made less of her lovely Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit. Accurately enough voiced, the soprano's lines never soared as they should over the rich textures that the APO was laying out.  

Saturday night was not all given over to such seriousness. The concert opened with Anthony Ritchie's Third Piano Concerto, alerting Aucklanders to the stylish pianism of Emma Sayers.  

One is usually aware of echoes from composers who have gone before in Ritchie's music, but here they were marshalled with such lightness and brio, and handled by Sayers and the APO with such elegance and good spirits, that one would have to be as prickly as GBS not to be captivated.  

Review by William Dart - NZ Herald – Monday May, 31 , 2010

 

***

 Auckland Choral at Auckland Town Hall

Auckland Choral's The Creation was an imaginative contribution to the Haydn bicentenary as well as being a welcome opportunity to hear a work last performed in this city eight years ago. This is one of the monuments of its genre. Influenced by the popular oratorios of Handel, The Creation has Haydn setting texts from Genesis, the Book of Psalms and Milton's Paradise Lost to express his wonderment and faith in Mankind.

Uwe Grodd and his musicians certainly caught the freshness of Haydn's score, even if the opening Representation of Chaos had its insecure moments. However, from James Harrison's authoritative opening recitative, with its simple but effective choral refrain, we were caught up in this marvellous score.

With Auckland Choral joined by the young voices of the University of Auckland Chamber Choir, the great optimistic choruses like The Heavens are Telling stunned as intended. The more testing weave of the later Achieved is the glorious work also held no fear for these singers.

Pepe Becker is a soprano with Early Music allegiances so, not surprisingly, she allowed herself the occasional ornamentation here and there, her voice rising clear and true above the orchestra in arias like With verdure clad.

Kenneth Cornish's scrupulously moulded tenor was apparent from his opening Now vanish before the Holy Beams although he was not always as successful as Becker in penetrating through the orchestra. His aria, In Native Worth, immaculately phrased, would have benefited from more vocal bloom.

The lightish bass voice of James Harrison made for complete audibility as far as texts were concerned and he also has a keen appreciation of Haydn's shapely lines, although the recitatives in which he introduces the newly-made creatures of sea and land, cried out for more dramatisation.

The only severe disappointment of the evening came not from the musicians but from The Edge. A delay of 20 minutes was brought about through inefficient box office procedures and patrons were permitted to enter during the performance, one scampering none too lightly across the hall in front of us - an intrusion that is an insult to the audience, the musicians and, finally, to Haydn.

Review by William Dart - NZ Herald – Tuesday Mar, 31 , 2009

 

***

 Divine musical tradition in good hands – and good heart

Auckland Choral’s much-loved outing was full of the joys of the season

There was a sense of celebration in the air as 100 or so choristers waited for Uwe Grodd's baton to start Auckland Choral's annual Messiah.  Grodd's Overture suggested we were in for a vibrant, energised account of this most familiar oratorio, and we were not to be disappointed.

An unexpectedly rich and generous sound issued from the modest forces of Pipers Sinfonia; the opening slow section was agreeably lithe, and the Allegro moderato bustled and buzzed with vitality. This Overture was certainly a dramatic lead-in to David Hamilton's immaculately articulated Comfort Ye My People, even if there were moments of strain in the more florid terrain of the tenor's ensuing Every Valley.

Hamilton would later reveal the full range of his art, from an intensely emotional Thy Rebuke Hath Broken His Heart to a Thou Shalt Break Them that sustained its fury through to its final, fiery flourish. Carmel Carroll also made the most of her dramatic moments but, when a more reflective mood was called for, the music benefited from the mezzo's cool, dispassionate delivery.

Soprano Anna Leese delivered charisma in her early coloratura as well as a clear lyricism in I Know That My Redeemer Liveth, with restrained but effective ornamentation and the most affecting final bars. David Griffiths dispensed his set-pieces with his usual acumen, superbly so in The Trumpet Shall Sound, until an outburst of heroic cadenza brought the aria to a close.

Judging by the enthusiasm in the ranks, Grodd will be a positive force with Auckland Choral.

Balancing the occasional falter in ensemble, there was real exultation in popular choruses such as For Unto Us A Child Is Born and both conductor and singers relished the bold flurries of The Lord Gave The Word. One could also sense the singers' enjoyment of the elegant and often witty organ continuo that James Tibbles wove into choruses like All We Like Sheep.

Auckland Choral's Messiah is a tradition to be cherished.

And, when a Hallelujah Chorus suddenly makes one aware of the enormous debt that Elgar owes to Handel, you realise that this important tradition is in hands that truly care.

Review by William Dart - NZ Herald – Wednesday Dec, 17 , 2008

 

***

The National Business Review

Messiah triumph

Reviewed by John Daly-Peoples | Wednesday December 17 2008 - 09:05am

Handel’s Messiah        Auckland Choral Auckland Town Hall,             December 15

This year's Auckland Choral’s
Uwe Grodd/ Foto: Ian Bremner performance of Handel’s Messiah was a triumph. Not only did its members sound brilliant, they also looked the part.  For the past few years the female members of the choir were adorned with what looked like large red sacks. This year clothed in their best black outfits and the men in the dinner suits, the choir looked and sounded like a choir of international stature.
          Although it is immensely popular, with great tunes, the Messiah can be a challenge to make in a truly great experience. The music, chorus and soloists act as commentators on the life death and redemption of Christ. Together they provide an insight into the spiritual, emotional and psychological dimensions of Christ's life as well as the joys and struggles of mankind.

 A great performance of the Messiah needs to have soloists who convey the various emotional and psychological nuances of the work and they need to express these aspects of the life of Christ as well as that of the common man.

 

With this year’s Messiah they achieved that with an exhilarating display by the Pipers, Sinfonia Auckland Choral and the four soloists; soprano Anna Leese, mezzo-soprano Carmel Carroll (replacing an ill Helen Medlyn), tenor David Hamilton and Bass David Griffiths.

 

David Hamilton was outstanding in his role giving the arias an emotional drama which was riveting. He articulated perfectly with a superbly controlled voice making his Comfort ye a moving opening recitative.    Carmel Carroll lacked power in some of her early  arias but the richness of her voice was able to give a moving performance notably with her sorrowful account of He was despised and rejected of men.    The bass has some of best tunes to sing in the Messiah and David Griffiths gave them a fresh interpretation. His singing of The people that walked in darkness, exposing a dark and eerie quality of the oratorio. 

    Anna Leese who is making a name for herself overseas contributed an ethereal, edgy singing style which conveyed the notions of wretchedness, agony and love.

 

Uwe Grodd in his first outing with the choir proved himself to be a conductor who thinks through the music. There was a balance between the various parts of the orchestra and between choir and orchestra which brought out the best in the music and the singers.

 

The choir was electrifying in some of its choruses producing sounds which ranged from the light and sweet to the vibrant and dark.  Sitting at his gold and orange lit organ James Tibbles gave an inspiring accompaniment with some thrilling, burnished sounds.

By John Daly-Peoples - 12/17/08

 

***

 CONDUCTOR’S SPARK STILL BURNING BRIGHT  

NEW ZEALAND HERALD

Saturday November 29, 2008

 

Musically, they don’t come much more special than versatile Uwe Grodd, writes William Dart

 

In the 1960s Uwe Grodd was a contented choirboy in the small German town of Calw, singing in the weekly Bach Cantata. Eventually his voice broke and Bach’s Mass in B minor was denied him, but another door opened.  “A friend was playing the flute in a little chapel and it was like he was Pan himself,” Grodd remembers.  “The spark had been ignited and that was it.”

Thirteen years later, having graduated from Mainz University, the young flautist and conductor emigrated to New Zealand. Grodd’s first nine years in Nelson gave him the chance to “work with real orchestras and not in a study environment”, he says. “I could do my apprenticeship and make all my mistakes.”

Nelson’s strongly-knit musical community is echoed in that of the Manukau Symphony Orchestra, which he, as music director, conducts next weekend in an ambitious concert of Wagner, Mahler and Beethoven – not bad for a group which started off 15 years ago, putting on concerts for friends and families.  Now the orchestra is possibly the only one in the country which can depend on the attendance of the full city council at its concerts. “There is such enthusiasm inspired by Terry Spragg, who is still the chairman.”

       One fond memory is lending Helen Clark his baton to conduct the Hallelujah Chorus at the opening of Manukau’s Telstra Clear Pacific Events Centre.

      Another was Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony in one of MSO’s regular Symphonic Journeys “presenting it with a workshop atmosphere – a real milestone”.

Grodd is proud of the orchestra’s record with its resident composers (next year will see the premier of an Anthony Ritchie Piano Concerto) as well as the international soloists it attracts, such as Christopher Hinterhuber and flautist Robert Aitken.

Next weekend mezzo Helen Medlyn sings Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder. While Wagner’s Meistersingers Overture is “perfect for getting everyone stirred up and into the spirit of the evening” Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony may be the greatest challenge, but Grodd does not feel inhibited by those who have conducted it before him.   “Furtwangler once said that tradition is untidy,” he laughs.  “You have to form your own tradition, make your own mind up.”

      And nine days after his Manukau gig, Grodd tackles tradition once more, conducting Auckland Choral’s annual Messiah – his first time, but the choir’s 154th.

He has, however conducted extracts at the prestigious Handel Festival in the composer’s birthplace of Halle and is struck by how, even for the non-religious, “Messiah tells us there is something special out there and we too are special.”

Musically, they don’t come much more special than Grodd.  The man redefines what it means to be versatile.

Next year he plays Mozart Concertos in the United States and takes New Zealand music to Luxembourg, as well as recording the fifth instalment of Ferdinand Ries’ piano and orchestra compositions for Naxos.

His busy career as an exclusive Naxos artist takes Grodd to an audience far larger than any concert hall could accommodate and, soon to appear are three CDs of Schubert’s complete flute music.

Watch out for the first in the new year and perhaps, in the meantime, chase up his prize-winning Ries and Vanhal discs.

By William Dart - NZ Herald 11/29/08

 

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Manukau Symphony Orchestra at Genesis Energy Theatre 

Manukau Symphony Orchestra is a force to watch on the city's musical scene. Although most of its programming tends towards the middle of the road, conductor Uwe Grodd is not above springing surprises.

The weekend's Ole concert was one: a playlist that, in Grodd's words, celebrated "the incredible synergy between France and Spain".

Debussy's Petite Suite was pure enchantment from the first bars of En Bateau. The score's four movements were masterfully shaped and characterised by Grodd, catching all their Debussian whimsy.

At the other end of the concert, we were farewelled Spanish-style with a vivacious Interlude and Dance from Falla's La Vida Breve.

And in between, Austrian pianist Christopher Hinterhuber stepped in with not one, but two concertos - the chic and occasionally cheeky Ravel G major and the exotic tableaux of Manuel de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain.

Ravel set a test for the orchestra but, with Grodd's instinct for sustaining structure and energy, the occasional thin tone in the strings and passing flutters of indecision were not a serious worry. He was not afraid to let climaxes rip in the bluesy Adagio and the final Presto was a tingling delight.

Christopher Hinterhuber, a pianist with a reputation for earlier music than this, brought a classical fastidiousness to Ravel's glittering intricacies; glissandi caressed the Manukau Steinway and he revelled in jazzy rhythms that could have slipped out of Gershwin.

A fiery account of Albeniz's El Puerto was a taster for the Falla still to come.

Nights in the Gardens of Spain offered more orchestral challenges, but the musicians responded vividly to the composer's bold colourings. Rhythms were as alluring as they were infectious and Hinterhuber turned on yet another tour de force.

You have to wait until October to catch the MSO's next concert which, incidentally, features The Emperor and the Nightingale by our own Jenny McLeod. Meanwhile, check out Hinterhuber in recital tomorrow night at the University Music Theatre.

By William Dart - NZ Herald 12/8/08

 

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In the Studio:

‘In Grodd we trust’

New Zealand-based flautist Uwe Grodd has been hard at work over the past 12 months recording no fewer than six albums for Naxos. His latest recording, made in late August at Hamilton’s Wel Theatre, New Zealand, is dedicated to rare works by Schubert and features pianist Matteo Napoli. Included on the disc are the Variations on “Trockne Blumen” from Die schöne Müllerin, the Arpeggione Sonata, D 821, in an arrangement by Grodd himself, and six Lieder arranged for flute and piano by Theobald Boehm.

Gramophone November 2007

 

***

Superb Flutes with Opus Chamber Orchestra

 

Yesterday’s performance at the Concert Chamber of Opus Chamber Orchestra’s ‘Winds from the North’ was distinguished by two outstanding flutists. .   

Canadian flutist Robert Aitken and his fellow–player from Auckland, Uwe Grodd,  brought  lustre to the occasion by their  purity of sound and refined musicianship.   Uwe Grodd also conducted, and his fine rapport with the players produced many treats in the attractive programme.

Sinfonia in D major by the late 19th C Viennese composer Vanhal was a delight, and memorable for its touching, extended oboe solo.

The two flutes formed an exceptional partnership in Cimarosa’s Concerto for Two Flutes. Their playing was light and silky in tone, and managed to be both wonderfully refined and lively, especially in their many joyous exchanges.       

Robert Aitken was masterly in the flamboyantly Romantic ‘Concert Piece’ Op 3 by the Dane Joachim Andersen. Here was exemplary flute playing, with all the agility needed to handle a virtuoso work which was further distinguished by expressive playing from the orchestra.     

Uwe Grodd produced plenty of character in Beethoven’s Symphony No 1 when it was given a rather relaxed performance, well suited to the chamber orchestra scale, which emphasized the lyricism in the work.

 

Hanno Fairburn's Rotorua Post 23/7/2007

 

***

Winds from the NorthUwe Grodd and the Opus Chamber Orchestra

Who: Opus Chamber Orchestra

When: Friday 20th July

Where: WEL Academy of Performing Arts

Works by: Vanhal, Cimarosa, Andersen and Beethoven

Conductor and Flautist – Uwe Grodd, Solo Flautist – Robert Aitken

A concert of little gems that had elements of virtuosity mingled with moment’s of melodic melisma. The opening Vanhal’s Sinfonia in D with its central oboe cantilena was beautifully played, which created a magical moment which was encircled by the crisp and gallant outer movements.

Cimarosa Concerto for two Flutes is well known the difference here was that Robert Aitken had included five complex cadenzas that along with Uwe Grodd demonstrated virtuosity in equal abundance as if a florid latticework was being created for our aural edification to illuminate aspects of this work.

Andersen’s Konzertstück Op.3 for Flute and Orchestra displayed a romantic fervour and rhapsodic elements that were well captured by both soloist and orchestra. The ensemble and balance here worked well, with some fine playing from the wind and brass. Aitken’s ever-present virtuosity was not only in the mechanical dexterity, but his use of tonal colours and nuanced playing was acute.

Beethoven’s Symphony No.1 in C major. Good tempi, appropriate balance and energy were the hallmarks of this performance. The power of the first movement was matched by luminosity and lyricism of the second, whilst the third exuded rhythmic vitality. The finale was exciting with Beethoven’s playfulness and own wry wit being accentuated. Weber lauded it as "splendid" and so it was.

Andrew Buchanan-Smart Waikato Times 23/ 7/ 2007

 

***

Hamilton Civic Choir: 60th Anniversary Gala Concert ... more


A combination of the impassioned and the dramatic made both the occasion and performance an unqualified success!

The appetiser of Flute Concerto, with its crystal clarity, cleansed the palette for the weightier and more profound Requiem.

From the opening Introit through to the Lacrymosa to the final Lux Aeterna, the choir once again were on top form with singing that was sharply etched throughout, its balance excellent, its singing energetic, dedicated and dramatic, nowhere more so than in the Dies irae, Rex tremende and final Communion.

Particularly impressive were the soloists, Pepe Becker, Helen Medlyn, David Hamilton, and Jamie Frater who produced clarity both in the words and in the music. They came across with unusual definition, especially in their blend and balance with particularly refined ensemble singing.

Uwe Grodd’s achievement was on obtaining such a powerful and distinctive interpretation both from the choir and the excellent orchestra, with the dark tone colours in keeping with the solemnity of this work being well maintained throughout. Both the balance between orchestra and chorus and the orchestra’s internal balance were proved finely judged. A stunning performance that appeared much appreciated by a full Founders Theatre.

WAIKATO TIMES (Andrew Buchanan-Smart )  3 April 2006

***

Saison Opening Concerts in Gotha and Suhl .... Interviews (in German)

Genussreich in Gotha -  Gotha 08.09.2005

Nein, "Winterträume" konnten beim Saisonauftakt der Thüringen Philharmonie Gotha-Suhl nicht aufkommen. Auch nicht Gedanken an "Raues Land, Nebelland", wie Tschaikowsky den zweiten Satz seiner ersten Sinfonie in g-Moll überschrieb.
Im ersten Gothaer Konzert der Spielzeit 2005/2006 erklang dieses sinfonische Werk mit Tiefgang und kompositorischer Meisterschaft - und kühl ging es dabei ganz und gar nicht zu. Denn Uwe Grodd nahm sich dieses Werkes mit so viel Kraft und Aufmerksamkeit an, spürte den Impulsen der Komposition nach, den großen Emotionen, die den Schöpfer wohl getrieben haben. Zeigte die ganze Bandbreite des Gefühls, die Tschaikowsky hinein gelegt hatte: russische Seele bis zum Abwinken, dann wieder Militärmusik bis zum Überdruss.

Aber immer wieder hatte der Komponist eine überraschende Wendung parat, fing die Stimmung ab, schuf neue Gedankenansätze. Die hat Grodd wunderbar erkannt und dem Orchester feinste Nuancen entlockt. Tschaikowsky vom Feinsten.
Weitere Höhepunkte des Konzerts waren Robert Schumanns hochdramatisch aufbereitete Ouvertüre zu "Julius Cäsar" sowie Gerlint Böttcher mit Beethovens 1. Klavierkonzert. Perfekte Technik, virtuoses Können. Vielleicht ist Annerose Schmidt ihr am ehesten vergleichbar. Mit Perfektion und Klugheit, aber eben auch der gleichen inneren Distanz und Kühle.
Den Genuss konnte die Künstlerin durch die Zugabe mit Liszts "Gnomenreigen" bestätigen.

"Thüringer Allgemeine" Feuilleton (Renate Parschau)  09.09.2005 

Sommer-Wintertraum mit Aprikosenduft - Suhl 07.09.2005

"... ... , entlockte Grodd den für Tschaikowsky typischen dunklen Streichern und elegischen Hörnern einen so durchsichtigen Klang, dass die schwermütige Grundstimmung eher leichtfüßig und trotzdem spannungsreich daherkam. So konnten die Suhler Musiker ihre Stärke bei dynamisch-ausladenden Stücken der Romantik ausspielen, die sie sooft bewiesen haben. Die leisen Ausklänge im zweiten und dritten Satz, die präzisen Bläser, der entfesselte Ausbruch im letzten Satz hielten das Publikum spürbar in Atem. Langer Applaus für Grodd, der im Dirigat mühelos zwischen fast tänzelnder Leichtigkeit und innigster Anspannung wechselte. ... "   ..... den ganzen Artikel 

"Freies Wort" Feuilleton 09.09.2005 

***

Taranaki Festival of the Arts

“……and this was Grodd at his best, wondrously skilled in the swifter movements, pensive, poignant in the Adagio, and backed by great playing from Napoli , who.....” ..... more                                                    

Daily News 5 Aug 2005 

***

Handel Festival - Final concert with fireworks  ... more

 

Händelfestspiele Halle waren großer Erfolg

40.000 Besucher, 90 Prozent Auslastung - für die Leiterin der Händelfestspiele Halle, Hanna John, war die Auflage 2005 ein großer Erfolg. Dabei glückte auch die künstlerische Neuausrichtung: Erstmals standen Händels Oratorien im Mittelpunkt des Festivals. Das Motto "Biblische Gestalten bei Händel" zielte auf das Spätwerk des Barock-Komponisten ab.
... 
Feuerwerk zum Finale
Traditionell endeten die Festspiele am Sonntag, dem 12. Juni, mit einem Konzert und Feuerwerk in der Galgenbergschlucht. Das Abschlusskonzert spielte das Philharmonische Staatsorchester Halle. Unter der Leitung von Uwe Grodd waren Ausschnitte aus Händels Oratorien "Messiah" und "Joshua" zu hören. Das Festival wurde mit rund 1,1 Millionen Euro von der Stadt Halle und dem Land Sachsen-Anhalt gefördert.

mdr.de Kultur, 13.06.2005
der ganze Artikel

... Dirigent Uwe Grodd gastiert regelmäßig bei den Händelfestspielen in Halle.

mdr.de Kultur, 30.05.2005
der ganze Artikel

Wochenspiegel 15.06.2005


Amtsblatt 15.06.2005

 

 

Mitteldeutsche Zeitung 13/06/2005

***

 

Beethoven/ Gassmann/ Sculthorpe/ Mozart - Hamilton 28 Nov. 2004

An accomplished performance by the orchestra under Uwe Grodd produced an excellent concert for the near capacity audience.

Gassmann's The Ridiculous Traveller overture in three sections was a little gem displaying a stately elegance and stylish performance.

Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, the Emperor, was the highlight with Katherine Austin as soloist. The massive opening chords in the orchestra, with the pianistic decoration upon them were as fortuitous as they were spectacular. The cadenza for the first movement and closing stages, by contrast, were refined and delicately set off against all the bombast.

Austin's playing in the second movement Adagio is given a lovely contemplative and almost improvisational air; as the ghostly hints of the third movement theme are given at the end, one felt a chill run down the spine. Austin's virtuoso display, though not flawless, was overshadowed by the spirit and verve of Beethoven with an energetic performance, with lashing of bravura, which avoided excess. 

Sculthorpe's Port Essington for strings displayed versatility with the juxtaposition of two music worlds carefully interwoven. The orchestral sonorities and solo timbres were finely judged and blended.

Grodd captured all the crisp classical rhythms in Mozart's Symphony No. 31 in a thoughtful performance. All the sections were refined and well balanced with tight ensemble. This excellent concert could only enhance the musical reputation of Opus and its members.

Waikato Times 29/11/2004

 

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Prime Minister launches top-listing CD (pdf ca. 108 kb)

 

The University of Auckland News - Mai 2004

Helen Clark and Uwe Grodd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Primeminister of New Zealand Helen Clark and Uwe Grodd 
at the launch of the Hummel CD
Dr. Karen Grylls, Chorusmaster, Uwe Grodd, Helen Clark

***

"Under Uwe Grodd's musical direction however a preminition of the early classical period is hinted which could not be imagined in a more interesting way. Händel as a composer at the edge to a new time who opens himself up during his last steps to a new development. Händel is currently Number One amongst audiences ...and this is one of the strongest lifesignals of the medium Opera."

DIE WELT  13/6/03

 

"Imeneo opens the Händel Festival in Halle. ...Uwe Grodd creates a light but never superficial sound with the Händel Festival Orchestra"

Tagesspiegel, Berlin 11/6/03

 

" 'Heartbreak at the altar of reason'- The Halle Opera House celebrates a well deserved triumph with 'Imeneo'. The 60th Händel production was celebrated without uneingeschränkt gefeiert with an outstanding vocal ensemble....and with the Händel Festival Orchestra on original instruments under Uwe Grodd was lyrical and flowing, always supportive to the singers."

Mitteldeutsche Zeitung 10/6/03 

 

" The premiere of the opera 'Imeneo' was umjubelt as the first highlight of the 52nd Händel Festival. This production is a festival for singers and a Rausch , dreamlike , sinnlichen Musizierens of the Händel Festival Orchestra on original instruments under Uwe Grodd. a ferrytale about love full of charme and esprit."

Magdeburger Volksstimme  10/6/03 

 

"Brilliant Festival premiere with Imeneo" 

"the highlight of the evenin is the exceptional part of the agile yet with full volume....Tirinto with her raging aria that culminates in a coloraturastorm with flying spraks from the orchestra in the pit. Since the reunification with have the an orchestra on original instruments that thanks to baroque conductors have developed a wonderful soundculture. for example Uwe Grodd does not ask for lank artistry with tedious sowingmachine staccati but uses well judeged speeds to give this old music a marvellous and very comfortable patina/sheen

Thüringesche Landeszeitung, 10/6/03

 

" Uwe Grodd leads the Händel Festival Orchestra in an assured way and with energy." 

Leipziger Volkszeitung 10/6/03 

 

"....the Opening Festival Celebrations with some excellent musicmaking....the Händel Festival Orchestra and the Choir des Musiciens du Louvre under the direction of Uwe Grodd reached in Händel's anthem 'The King shall rejoice' a radiance that was also evident in the premiere of the opera 'Imeneo'."

Mitteldeutsche Zeitung  7/6/03 

 

***

 

 

Conductor:

Christmas Oratorio by JS Bach - Hamilton Gardens Pavilion

Calder Lawson Travel Hamilton Civic Choir / St Matthew's Chamber Orchestra / 
Conductor Uwe Grodd

A resounding success for all involved in a rare and uplifting performance of this masterpiece by "God's musician on earth". Those present should remember it as both a spiritual and musical experience. Uwe Grodd masterfully directed the three-hour epic journey as he guided the musicians, choir and soloists skillfully through a tapestry of some of the greatest music Bach ever composed.
All the soloists were excellent and on form delighting with their unique vocal qualities: soprano Pepe Becker with purity of tone; mezzo-soprano Anne Lamont-Lowe with darker hues; tenor Paul McMahon with effortless agility and lightness; while bass David Griffiths sang with warmth and richness. McMahon with impeccable diction resourcefulness as the Evangelist shone. The Civic Choir have, judging by this performance, regained their former bloom and standing, and hopefully should again soon be recognised as one of the finest choirs in NZ. Much credit for this should be attached to their director, Rachel Griffith-Hughes. St Matthew's Orchestra ably led by Michael McLellan gave a very secure foundation for the performance, with excellent soloists never found wanting in the virtuoso wind, brass, violin and cello continuo areas.
A choir of this quality is deserving of more support.

                                        Waikato Times 4 December 2000

***

Gloria - Holy Trinity Cathedral

The publicity for this event promised "Two hundred and fifty young musicians on stage," all of them drawn from the University of Auckland's orchestra and choir.
It was indeed impressive to see so many singers neatly stacked up, vocally well drilled, obviously keen as mustard, and led joyfully into the fray under the inspiring baton of Uwe Grodd.
Poulenc's Gloria gave the programme its title, and was a great choice. It drew fire when it first appeared in 1959, because solemn church folk had trouble reconciling its jaunty areas with its serious purpose. Nowadays, its sections of rhythmic drive are just as appealing as the languorous, bluesy endings that evoke Gershwin and Ravel, and seem perfectly natural to the musical vocabulary of the young.
Proof of that could be heard in the unerring aim of the men in an electrifying and beautifully pitched single-note entry at 'Qui sedes', and in the earlier, punchy 'Laudamus te.'
Soprano Glenese Blake sang the difficult solo part and seemed at ease for much of the way with the composer's high tessitura and awkward entries.
Her sweetness of timbre carried everyone gently to a heart-warming close.
The concert's first half was devoted to Elgar's hugely demanding violin concerto, where the difficulties spill over from the soloist to the orchestra, which has problems of balance built into the score, and requires that Elgar's typically free, rhapsodic teempi seem natural and spontaneous.
Animated by Grodd's skilful conducting, the University Orchestra caught much of Elgar's musical ebb and flow, though one wished for more power in the middle ranges to power the big nostalgic surges of sound that breathe mightily through his musical landscapes, like the wind itself.
As soloist, Simeon Broom caused a sensation with his self-effacing yet focused playing, always highly musical, despite the first movement's devilish runs sometimes losing weight. Gaining a magical sound in the andante, he went on triumphantly to embrace the finale's central alternation between passionate rhapsody and profound reflection, bringing a delighted audience to its feet at the end.

                                       Heath Lees, NZ Herald 2 October 2000

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Standing Ovation for Vanhal's Mass
Bach 2000I nternational Chamber Music Festival, St. John's Cathedral
Music by Bach and Vanhal

The capacity audience was on its feet in a well-deserved tribute following a superb presentation of the Mass in C by 18th century Viennese composer Johann Baptist Vanhal - world premiere performance of a new version of the work edited by New Zealand musicologist Alan Badley.
The performance of the choir, Voices New Zealand (director Karen Grylls), soloists soprano Mary Enid Haines, contralto Nina Scott-Stoddart, tenor Cohn Ainsworth and bass Steven Pitkanen, organist James Tibbles and the Aradia Ensemble led by Kevin Malion - under the skilled direction of the Festival Director Uwe Grodd - will surely be long remembered by all who were fortunate to be present.
Some highlights were the precision, disci-pline, balance and sheer musicality of Voices New Zealand, the eloquent violin solo from orchestra leader Kevin Mallon, the exquisite blend of the soprano and alto soloist in the Benedictus, and Janies Tibbles' scintillating playing in the Quoniam section. Earlier in the programme, the tribute to JS Bach on this 250th anniversary day, began with organist James Tibbles superb surprise playing of the famous Toccata in D minor.
This was followed by the performance of the Brandenburg Goncerto No. 2 in featuring world-famous Swedish trumpeter Niklas Eklund, whose playing of the virtuosic part on a natural valveless instrument in the final movement, was quite breath-taking.
But his playing was matched by the other members of the ensemble, particularly the concertino section of violin Kevin Mallon, oboeist Georg Corrall and recorder player Alison Melville in the central movement. The faster outer movements were characterised by stylish playing of impeccable balance and perfect rhythmic impetus.
The other choral work by Bach in the concert was the Magnificat in D using similar forces to the Vanhal Mass with the addition of soprano Maria Keohane. The result was the same - a performance of authority, sensitivity, balance and clarity, demonstrating the brilliant musicianship of all who took part. Two special highlights were the overall singing of Voices New Zealand 'without doubt as fine a choir as anyone in the audience could wish to hear' and the combination of the instruments and the soloists in several of the arias.
The other item on the programme - Sinfonia in C by Vanhal - was of lesser stature musically but nevertheless the playing cap-tured the style and impetus of the music ideally in the outer movements, with some particularly sensitive and expressive playing in the extended slow movement.
Musical Director Uwe Grodd enthused over this programme several times earlier in the festival. His enthusiasm was certainly not misplaced, with the success of the whole venture due in no small part to his skill and musicianship
.

                                        Peter Williams, July 2000

***

International Chamber Music Festival - Hamilton Concerts
Capella Istropolitana / Uwe Grodd

An absolutely magnificent end to an extremely fine Naxos-sponsored Chamber Music Festival. This all-classical programme featured two of the period's finest concertos. The Synphonia in A by Vanhal was superbly played with all the style nuances associated with the performance traditions of the period. The ensemble throughout was impeccable with scrupulous attention to detail and dynamics. The Beautiful Mozart concerto for flute & harp, K299, with the most serene of slow movements was a fluid and magical performance where both soloists blended to make one... Again the Istropolitana with Grodd were in exceptional form, reminding me of the adage that the whole is greater than the sum of individual parts - a gem of a concert that will remain with me.

                                       Waikato Times July 1999

***

Beethoven Mass in C
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland

... performed with verve and commitment ... discipline, clarity and accuracy were evident throughout each section of the work, which received a compelling performance with conductor Uwe Grodd in total command

                                        Tara Werner, New Zealand Herald October 1998

***

Brahms Tragic Overture
Beethoven Emperor
Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 1


Orchestra Concert A Musical Miracle
The dynamics were passionate, the percussion dramatic, the strings lush or incisive as required and the wind performed their solos with flair and excellent intonation. Throughout the concert, Grodd's flamboyant style of conducting inspired and encouraged the orchestra to hitherto unscaled heights, particularly in the tuttis, but his attention to detail showed up in the bridge passages. He always had the 'big picture' in mind and ... it was the overall assured performance that was so impressive.

                                        Daily News New Plymouth, September 1998

***

Goosens Fantasy
Haydn violin concerto
Debussy Petite Suite
Pleyel Sinfonia

The orchestra played sympathetically under the energetic control of conductor Uwe Grodd, who extracted much discipline and satisfying music from the players... with playing that reached a very high standard - possibly as good as I have heard from the orchestra for some years.
This was a most enjoyable concert. Grodd brings out the best in the orchestra which obviously has a close rapport with him.

                                       Nelson Evening Mail September 1998

***

Nelson Symphony Orchestra concert
Conductor, Uwe Grodd; soloist, James Tennant.
Rossini, Overture to The Barber of Seville; Saint-Saens, Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No 1 in A minor Op 33; Ravel, Pavane pour une Infante Defunte; Beethoven, Symphony No 1 in C major Op 21.

A most enjoyable concert for all
Uwe Grodd professes to have real pleasure in working with amateur orchestras. This showed clearly in the Nelson Symphony Orchestra's response to him with this very enjoyable concert. Equally important is his expertise. His unusual seating arrangement compensated for the small numbers in the lower string sections. Unison scales heard issuing from the auditorium this last week rewarded us all with intonation which was generally excellent.
Characteristic of the entire concert was the way in which occasional tentative starts, thin tone, loose rhythm and lack of cohesion between sections were not only rapidly recovered from, but did not spoil the music. Thus the Rossini overture which opened the concert quickly developed into a performance of charm. Looking somewhat French Impressionist with flowing hair and smock-like shirt, James Tennant plunged into the Saint-Saens cello concerto. His impassioned mercurial playing dominated the concerto in spite of the limitations of his cello. (Should anyone in this region harbouring a Stradivarius choose to donate it to him it would be in worthy hands.) Rapport between conductor and soloist was excellent and the orchestra mainly dealt well with the sticky problem of accompanying with intensity and colour without drowning the soloist or sounding too obviously restrained.
Despite presenting hurdles of dynamic control and unanimous attack, the Ravel Pavane was showcase for some first-class atmospheric wind and string playing.
Beethoven is difficult to perform. For one thing his symphonies are famous. For another, conflicting elements in his music of demanding accuracy versus direct outpouring; delicate colour versus dynamic fire; and controlled architectural form versus demonic energy confront musicians of every rank. The Nelson Symphony Orchestra stood up to these demands exceptionally well and the strings in particular produced a beautiful and exciting sound.
Uwe Grodd's vision for the orchestra is a core of local musicians enhanced by imported professionals. Necessary for this is financial support, in this case given by Port Nelson, and historically consistent with the patronage for musicians of all ages. Alliances between amateur and professional musicians can be uneasy and unfruitful but if this concert is anything to go by it seems ideal for the Nelson Symphony Orchestra.

                                       Mary Nyre, Nelson Evening Mail 24 June 1996

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Flautist
Flautist provides musical feast

Those who braved Thursday's stormy weather to attend the flute-piano concert at St. Thomas More Church were treated to a recital that could have graces any of the world's great concert halls. Uwe Grodd is a flautist of international repute and Bruce Greenfield one of our country's leading accompanists. Not only are they accomplished musicians in their own right but they form a superb duo. The concert opened with a Concertino by Chaminade, probably the first woman to gain recognition as a composer. Both performers produced great beauty of tone, well matched to the lush romanticism of this mini-concerto. This was authoritative playing with great clarity of articulation and appealing contrasts from the tender to the bravura. Kuhlau is a composer best known for his early piano pieces which are often included in the repertoire of young pianists. On Thursday we heard one of his more mature works, the Sonata in G for flute & piano. Its melodic variety and richness were well realised in the elegant phrasing and excellent dialogue between the two musicians... We were treated to the full range of the flute's capabilities in a captivating performance.

                                       Bay of Plenty Times November 1999

***

New Plymouth Orchestra presents a perfect evening of Mozart's Vienna

Soloists of international quality and class, Uwe Grodd, flute, and Ji Ying, harp, starred in Mozart's Concerto, the orchestra rising to their accompanying role, conductor Adam Jasinski controlling sensitively, neatly picking up each nuance of the soloist and joining up the cadence points with precision. Although the flute has the main melodic role - and doesn't Grodd revel in such work - the harp, too, has its moments of grandeur, especially in the three cadenzas, where the dovetailing was exquisite.
An ovation from the large audience was richly deserved and rewarded by three encores! First, a peice of Spanish froth and bubble by the French composer Jacques Ibert, the famous Tambourin by Gossec, played at breathaking pace, then real audience pleaser from the James Galway book.

                                       Daily News New Plymouth, April 1999

 


Better format lunchtime concert proves a success

The popularity of shorter, moderately priced concerts was confirmed at yesterday's lunchtime recital in Whiteley Church, New Plymouth.
Flautist Uwe-Alexander Grodd and pianist Matteo Napoli captivated a huge audience immediately with a melancholy opening offering of Schubert's Trochneblumen variations.
This most convivial of composers writes melody like a crystal stream constantly welling in a fount of inventive material - the flute deft and delectable but with serious intention, the piano a brilliant cascade of backing sound.
In a programme entitled The Romantic Flute, Saint-Saens' Romance sat easily as a prime example of romanticism - the pagan-like sultry lower register of the flute nicely contrasted against Grodd's delicate dexterity.
But it was soon back to business with Reinecke's Sonata Ondine. Most sonatas afford players and listeners alike some moments of respite, but this work continually gathers momentum. A later-romantic, but still in the Schubert-Mendelssohn tradition, its cyclic theme became increasingly sensual, its virtuoso properties increasingly breathtaking. Occasionally the balance favoured the piano, but this did not detract from the compelling urgency of the finale and its poignant last page.
Italian pianist Matteo Napoli is as distinguished an accompanist as he is a soloist and Grodd is a delight to watch.
Ebbing and flowing, near dancing, he grasps firmly the music's humour, its drama, its ever-changing moods, and transmits them skilfully to the audience.
Finally we were left with an encore-like piece by Benjamin Godard - its sparkling effervescence from a scintillating partnership characteristic of all we had heard.

                                        Harry Brown, Daily News New Plymouth

***

Relaxed, assured Bach
Uwe Grodd, flute with James Tibbles, harpsichord
Music Theatre,Auckland University

Bach must have liked the flute, judging from the sheer breadth and quality of the repertoire he wrote for it.
He continued his love affair with the instrument well into his later years when he was nearly totally blind: one can imagine him dictating to his son the siciliano of his final E Major flute sonata. A melody of gentle beauty and mellowness, it made a suitable encore to a concert hallmarked by autumnal warmth.
Grodd and Tibbles are colleagues at the School of Music and obviously have a close rapport that comes from a mutual understanding, achieving an equal balance between flute and harpsichord in Bach's Suite in C (BWV 997) and Sonata in B minor (BWV 1030).
The suite may have started off a little tense, but the duo soon eased into some relaxed music-making. The sarabande's lovely vocal quality, so akin to many of Bach's solo arias flowed along beautifully, while the gigue with its long passage for solo harpsichord was suitably robust.
Meantime the B minor sonata's extended first movement kept both musicians on a musical knife-edge, yet both handled its complex nature in an assured way. Assured would sum up Grodd's performance of two solo flute pieces; one traditional yet contemporary, and the other contemporary yet traditional.
Kazuo Fukushinia's poignant Mei for solo flute used many modern practices including harmonics, flutter tongue and hitting the keyboard, but was quintessentially Japanese.
Matthew Suttor's Rugwerk for amplified flute and tape used the now 'traditional' tone 12-note row, creating a myriad of effects that nonetheless sounded quite derivative.
In this short programme the two pieces certainly provided a satisfying balance to Bach's superb counterpoint.

                                       Tara Werner, New Zealand Herald 17 March 1997

 


Romantic sounds return

Flautist Uwe-Alexander Grodd delighted a large audience at Baycourt last night with a programme of music from the Romantic era. Beginning with a set of variations on 'Trock'ne Blumen' from Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Mullerin, the repartee between flute and piano was finely balanced in the slow variation. A poised accompaniment by Napoli underscored the quiet intensity of Grodd's playing in Saint Saens' Romance. In Godard's Suite Op.16 the performers gave a coloured version of the syncopated Allegretto.
Napoli's scaling down of the piano volume in the last passage work in the Undine Sonata by Reinecke enabled the repartee to speak clearly. In the high register the round clear notes of the flute soared over the piano. This sensitive blending showed that the performers obviously enjoyed working together.
In a bright but carefully measured 'Fantasie Brillliante our Carmen', the performers extended their artistic rapport and ensemble which left the audience wanting more.
Grodd and Napoli concluded this successful programme with a bright chirpy Tambourine, Annie's Song with long flowing legato lines and a bubbling reiteration of the Carmen Fantasy.

                                        Bay of Plenty Times 16 March 1995

***

... Grodd's strong tonal projection and a natural interpretative charisma make him one of the most arresting solo flautists I have heard here for some hears...'

                                       Ian Dando, Christchurch Star NZ

***

... Grodd beguiled the ear with some of the most seductive sounds of the festival so far

                                        International Festival of the Arts, Wellington Dominion 1992

***

... Uwe Grodd's performance on the flute was something special...

                                       Courtenay Times Canada, 1989

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... Uwe Grodd's played...with a beautiful, golden tone

                                        Kurier Wiesbaden, Germany 1982

***