Kate Rockstrom

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Kate Rockstrom regularly reviews classical music for Readings. She also performs as a flautist, as well as writing about music and books.

Reviews

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5 & Finzi: Clarinet Concerto by Michael Collins

He hath given me rest by His sorrow and life by His death. – Bunyan

Written above the third movement of Vaughan Williams’s Fifth Symphony, Romanza, these words are deceptively multilayered. Not just…

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Mozart y Mambo by Sarah Willis

Sometimes grand adventures start with a throwaway comment. Sarah Willis, French Horn in the Berlin Philharmonic, was amazed in 2017 to discover there is a statue of Mozart in Havana, Cuba. Nonplussed…

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Death and the Maiden by 12 Ensemble

Fans of the Australian Chamber Orchestra will instantly recognise the oeuvre of 12 Ensemble. They are a string orchestra that performs as a chamber ensemble, with no conductor. This brings a heighten…

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Aspects of America: Pulitzer Edition by Oregon Symphony & Carlos Kalmar

As many people would be aware, classical repertoire can take a long time to work its way into the hearts of listeners (J.S. Bach being an obvious one, only becoming popular eighty years after his dea…

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Vasks: Works for Piano Trio by Trio Palladio

We listen to, we look for, and we learn about classical music all the time. And yet, somehow, sometimes we miss a gem. This is what discovering Peteris Vasks has been for me. Considered one of the mo…

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Beethoven: The Piano Concertos by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Happy 250th Birthday Beethoven! The classical music world is going mad for all new Beethoven recordings and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is jumping on that bandwagon. Teaming up with fellow Austra…

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14 Histoires de guitares by David Jacques

You know someone is a music nerd when they discuss the fact that they collect guitars from a period spanning four hundred years and have more than ten guitars in their collection. David Jacques is de…

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Stuart Greenbaum by John Stanton, Ron Baglind & Luke Howard

What would you do in your final hour? If you had but one hour left, how would you express yourself? Through words, music, art? Stuart Greenbaum posits this question with his latest album, a musing on…

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Les Sons et les Parfums byJanina Fialkowska

‘Sounds and Perfume’ is the perfect name for this enchanting piano album. Originally from Baudelaire’s poem, Debussy borrowed the full title ‘Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir’ for …

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Mozart: Piano Trios

There is something so assured in this recording of Mozart’s Piano Trios. A deft touch at the piano, a sense of style to the violin melodies and a warm rich tone for the cello. This is everything Moza…

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Richard Strauss by Lucerne Festival Orchestra & Riccardo Chailly

There is silence. We wait … and wait … and then, out of this heavy hush, the trumpet speaks those famous notes. Riccardo Chailly brings his understanding of opera drama to these epically dramatic pie…

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Terry Riley: Sun Rings by Kronos Quartet

2019 is the fiftieth Anniversary of the moon landing. So I think that this is the perfect time for the first ever recording that intersperses sounds from space with classical music. Sun Rings by Terr…

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Sir John Tavener: The Protecting Veil by Matthew Barley and Sinfonietta Riga

When the first thing you see, as a performer, is the phrase ‘Transcendent With Awesome Majesty’, you know you’re going to be in for something epic. John Tavener wrote those words over the top of the …

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Rise by Jess Gillam

Last year was a historic year for the BBC Young Musician awards. They had their first ever saxophonist in the finals. Now to those who don’t know, this is a bigger deal than you might think. It’s his…

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Franz Schubert: Sonatas & Impromptus by András Schiff

The piano is a fascinating instrument that went through many iterations before it became what we know it as today. Originally known as the ‘fortepiano’, it was the first keyboard instrument to reliab…

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Mendelssohn: Piano Concertos and Works for Solo Piano by Jan Lisiecki

It is very interesting listening to a recording when you know the soloist has chosen the orchestra and the repertoire. You would not have thought it would make such a big difference in the musicality…

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Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow by Andris Nelsons & Boston Symphony Orchestra

I can think of no more fitting title for this complete series of Shostakovich’s symphonies performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra than ‘Under Stalin’s Shadow’. Born in 1906, Shostakovich suffered…

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Schumann: Cello Concerto & Works for Cello and Piano by Sol Gabetta

One of the most heartbreaking things I read when doing my research for this review was that a piece that is loved and adored around the world today was never premiered during the composer’s lifetime.…

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Himmelsmusik

The celebrated Baroque harpist and theorbo player (a type of lute) Christina Pluhar is a favourite of Readings. She has consistently released superb albums bringing a new life to early European music…

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Arvo Pärt by Viktoria Mullova & Paavo Järvi

When I worked Sunday evenings at Readings in Carlton (some few years ago now) one of my favourite albums to put on in the shop to bring the vibe down and yet give it a frisson of emotion was Arvo Pär…

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Bailar Cantando: Fiesta Mestiza en el Peru

Many regulars at Readings will know of Jordi Savall, the viola de gamba player and truly awe-inspiring early music specialist from Spain. Since the 1970s, Savall has been revolutionising period music…

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Bruch: Scottish Fantasy & Violin Concerto No. 1 by Joshua Bell & Academy of St Martin in the Fields

Joshua Bell is widely considered one of the best violinists in the world, and when he was made music director of the prestigious Academy of St Martin in the Fields his world reputation was cemented. …

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Pastoral Fables: Works for cor anglais and piano

Many people wouldn’t be able to name a cor anglais (or English horn) if they tripped over it. And it’s understandable, really, when it’s only sometimes used in orchestral music and almost never as a …

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Concertante! by Les Vents Français

Hands up who’s heard of a concertante? Most people would know the format of a concerto – a soloist and an orchestra. But a concertante has not just one soloist, but two, three or even more! The epica…

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Baroque: Music for Viola by Nils Mönkemeyer

Finally after all these years of reviews, I have a virtuosic viola album to review! The ‘King of Instruments’ (as it has been dubbed in certain circles), is often the considered the poor cousin to th…

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Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov & Shostakovich by the Orava Quartet

Did we need yet another string quartet album in the world? I didn’t think so, until I listened to the latest release from Deutsche Grammophon of an Australian group, the Orava Quartet. What is most a…

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Reich: Pulse/Quartet by International Contemporary Ensemble & Colin Currie Group

People often remark that Steve Reich’s music can be an acquired taste, one only for those serious, modern-classical music listeners wanting to expand their horizons. As someone who has been firmly en…

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Paul Stanhope: Lux Aeterna by Sydney Chamber Choir & Paul Stanhope

Lux Aeterna is Latin for ‘eternal light’. Paul Stanhope’s works often have dense harmonic ideas, but here, there’s a constant sense of lightness – both in the musicianship of the Sydney Chamber Choir…

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Schubert: Piano Sonatas D959 & D960 by Krystian Zimerman

I think I need to be honest and say I’ve been on a bit of a Schubert bandwagon lately – though mostly his symphonic and chamber repertoire – so it was a delight to review this piano album. I started …

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Il Diavolo by Accademia Arcadia

Many people know the story of the Devil’s Trill Sonata by Tartini. How he dreamed one night he made a pact with the devil, who took up Tartini’s violin and played ‘a sonata so wonderful and so beauti…

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News

Classical Music for Winter

by Kate Rockstrom

The weather is closing over and it’s getting darker earlier each day putting me in the mood for blankets, books and tea – and warming music. Here are my favourite picks to help chase away the winter blues.

Orchestral: Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps

It’s been 100 years since there was a near-riot in Paris at the opening of Diaghilev’s ‘Ballets Russes Rite of Spring’. With a groundbreaking…

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Classical Composers You Might Not Have Heard Of

by Kate Rockstrom

There are more composers out in the world aside from the usual Beethoven, Bach and Mozart. The only problem is where to start with the plethora of music available.

I have a number of my favourite less-known composers I’d love to introduce you to today.

Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) was a Czech composer.

While his style was deeply entrenched in the Romantic style of composition (think big sym…

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Classical Musicians Visiting in 2013

by Kate Rockstrom

The year has well and truly started back with the usual grind and it’s about this time that we start seeing if there’s anything to look forward to in the year. We’re always really lucky in Melbourne to get a lot of visitors from overseas; some of the best performers currently in the world land on our doorstep on a regular basis.

(Meanwhile, as we wait for them to arrive their extensive recording…

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Classical Music Anniversaries 2013

by Kate Rockstrom

For the past couple of years I’ve looked forward to the new year and anniversaries of famous classical composers. This year is no different. I look forward to seeing box sets and celebrations of each of their music.

Looking back 450 years we have the celebration of the birth of English bard, John Dowland. Particularly known for his works for lute and voice, there are so many recordings already a…

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Gift Ideas for Classical Music Lovers

by Kate Rockstrom

Christmas is upon us again!

While an integral part of Christmas are the carols, Handel’s Messiah and many other classical works, there are many classical music lovers out there and you don’t have to be stuck on carols to appreciate the world of classical music at this time of year.

Here are 12 titles that caught my eye.

Jordi Savall, Hesperion XXI and Alia Vox bring out a beautiful box for e…

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Listening to Sacred Classical Music

by Kate Rockstrom

Kate Rockstrom talks about the pleasures of listening to sacred music, presenting a sample of some wonderful recordings.

Music written for the use in church services can be some of the most powerful music ever written. While most of the music written in the Western Art Music tradition is for different types of Christian services, you don’t have be a church goer to appreciate the majesty of t…

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