Critical Acclaim

May 2019, Auckland Town Hall, Bach Musica NZ: Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 2 and Perkins, The Birds (world premiere)

Rainer W. Buhmann, Review

“Conductor and Choristers, suitably adorned with colourful bird-feather-accessories, displayed a compelling commitment and enthusiasm for the work, which were equally demonstrated by the four Soloists. Jessica Wells’ assured and soulful Mezzo presented a rewarding partnership to the narrator’s lyrics. Dilys Fong’s Mezzo, Harry Grigg’s Tenor and Angus Simmons’ Baritone provided authoritative and expressive interpretations of the work’s content, apart from convincingly demonstrating their own artistry: emerging, spirited and talented young artists with obvious potential.

A word of acknowledgement and praise also to Bach Musica NZ’s Choir and Orchestra: As could be expected, they continued to showcase their class and provided an absolutely reliable foundation for the performance of the two ‘diverse works’ and for that of the contributing soloists. Predictably, Choristers and Orchestral Musicians superbly demonstrated their outstanding individual musicianship under Rita Paczian’s energetic and demanding leadership from the podium.”

April 2019, Auckland Town Hall, Bach Musica NZ: Bach’s Mass in Bm

Clare Martin, Radio 13

“Rita Paczian and Bach Musica NZ gifted us a timeless expression of grief and triumph from the stage of the Auckland Town Hall last night… Performing Bach is not for the faint-hearted musician, it is technically as tough as it gets, Bach Musica NZ rose to the occasion with a huge depth of resonance and expressiveness.”

Rainer W. Buhmann, Review

“Bach Musica’s declared disciples have become accustomed to Rita Paczian’s astonishing music-making of the highest order. It is in this frame of mind, that her loyal audience would have paused in anticipation of the performance of the b-minor Mass, a musical creation almost beyond the realistic borders of the human mind and comprehension and stretching the capabilities of the performers… What followed was a spell-binding rendition of a work, interwoven with great energy, vibrancy, tenderness and beauty – an immortal work, for ever leading to new discoveries and insights.

Rita Paczian’s alert, sensitive and understanding leadership from the podium and the harpsicord clearly supported her musicians in this sublime process – thereby lifting their horizons. The tonal intricacy, the almost incomprehensible composite structure of ‘Cum Sanctu Spiritu’ was spell-binding and a true demonstration of the Bach-Genius. It was performed by Bach Musica NZ as the great Master would have wanted it done.”

December 2018, Auckland Town Hall, Bach Musica NZ: Christmas Surprise

William Dart, New Zealand Herald

“Bach Musica NZ’s Christmas Surprise concert delivered delights above and beyond seasonal expectations… For almost 20 minutes, one was spellbound by Snell’s navigation of Wagner’s merciless melodic manoeuvres and thrilled by O’Neill, singing without score and adding a palpable theatrical dimension. After the saturated palette of Wagner, Gounod’s St Cecilia Mass was almost transparently clear, a delicate French watercolour beside Wagner’s rich Teutonic oil. It was the perfect vehicle for Paczian’s very able choir and orchestra, from the firm, clarion harmonies of the Kyrie eleison to the striding confidence of the Credo.”

Clare Martin, Radio 13

“Bach Musica delivered a veritable box of Christmas bon-bons last Sunday night at Auckland’s Town Hall. At the centre of the selection was an excerpt from Richard Wagner’s Parsifal in an evening that had something for everyone.

Paczian coaxed sweetness from the strings at a perfect tempo. Even though this orchestra was playing Bach at a modern concert pitch on modern instruments, it still had the light touch and elegance of a baroque sound.

At this point, Paczian showed her dazzling ability with orchestra…for not only did she switch into Wagner in the middle of the programme, but she had undertaken her own arrangement of this scene in order to suit the smaller band. No mean feat on either score. She drew such warmth and colour from the orchestra, proving that a small instrumental force can give due gravitas and depth to Wagner, normally performed with large orchestral numbers.

There is no need to pause for thought if you want to try a classical concert… next time Bach Musica is performing, go! Whether you’re a Wagner fan or not… or don’t know a Gounod from a body part… here is vocal and instrumental playing of New Zealand at its finest under one of the finest conductors. Try and you will not be disappointed.”

Rainer W. Buhmann, Review

“Having grown to approach any Bach Musica NZ Concert with high expectations, in Sunday’s Christmas Surprise Concert, this formidable choir, orchestra and their conductor raised the bar yet again… With international NZ star tenor, Simon O’Neill, as soloist, it clearly embraced the Christmas spirit. By this time the audience was equally drawn into this spirit and opened their hearts and minds to choir, orchestra and an almost mesmerizing conductor: Rita Paczian.

Charles Gounod’s Messe Solennelle offered a happy and transparent contrast to Wagner’s ‘broody deliberations’. Gounod’s joyous music now provided choir and orchestra with a solid platform to demonstrate their extensive musical prowess in total and credible exuberance! And so we were privileged to listen to a choir, whose tonal projection and rhythmic interpretation, whose clarity, diction and sensitive dynamics were second to none and easily on par with the great Baroque-Choirs of Europe.

Supported by exuberant orchestra-playing and choral-singing the soloists trio, comprising the glorious soprano of Alexandra Gandionco, the assured and aspiring tenor of Manase Latu and the sonorous bass of Martin Snell, invoked a spirit of happiness within the audience, and a satisfying acknowledgement, to have such superb musicians in town!”