“Once again, I’m impressed by the ardour and sheen displayed by the NZSO, to say nothing of James Judd’s elegant and purposeful direction. The engineering is beguilingly warm, rich and truthful.” Gramophone
“An unpretentious but original voice, natural lyricism, a language that savours of fresh air, exhilarating heights and awe-inspiring lonely spaces - it's an appealing recipe, and the New Zealand Orchestra and James Judd bring if off with ripe understanding and audible affection.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2006 *****
“The ardour and sheen displayed by the NZSO, to say nothing of James Judd's elegant and purposeful direction, is deeply impressive. The engineering is beguilingly warm, rich and truthful.
Certainly, readers with a fondness for, say, Sibelius, Barber or Vaughan Williams should find plenty to savour.
Both the captivating 1940 overture Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand) and 1946 tone-poem A Song of Islands pave the way for the first two symphonies (if you like what you hear, make haste to the gloriously lyrical and bighearted Second). The other stand-out item is ABirthday Offering. Written in 1956 for the 10th anniversary of the NZSO, this score explores more astringent expression and affords each section of the orchestra ample opportunity for display.
The music combines a whiff of Tippett with the open-air manner of Copland – and there are even intriguing pre-echoes of James MacMillan's 'keening' string writing.
Sibelius's kindly presence looms over the tonepoem Forest (an apprentice effort from 1936) and the following year's infinitely more assured Drysdale Overture, whose idyllic beauty reflects the unspoilt North Island landscape in and around the hill farm where Lilburn was raised.
This well-filled disc concludes with the bracing 1939 Festival Overture and Processional Fanfare, a 1961 arrangement for three trumpets and organ of the student song Gaudeamus igitur, which the composer reworked 24 years later for small orchestra. Lovely stuff – and a bargain of the first order.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010