"Douglas Mews is a world class exponent of the harpsichord which he showed to full capacity throughout. His performance of Handel’s Suite No.2 was spellbinding." - Nelson Mail

"Very precise moves, slow and sensuous or cautiously frivolous, but proudly elegant at all times."

                                                                                                - Otago Daily Times


The Baroque Community and Educational Trust of New Zealand presented a recital last evening in St Paul’s Cathedral, Dunedin, as part of its  South Island tour, writes Elizabeth Bouman.


The twilight ambience of the venue fitted the mood and character of the recital and excellent clarity of sound and movement was enjoyed by a small but appreciative audience. 

Baroque music, particularly secular forms traditionally adhered to the metre and character of various dances of the time, and the programme was enhanced by dancing from international Baroque period dance specialist Mareike Greb (Germany). Authentic 17th  century costuming added to the performance and her elegance and graceful routines were delightful. She also compered the recital.

A Telemann  Overture in A Minor  opened the programme followed by his trio sonata  Les Corelizantes No. 6.  Next was a Corelli trio sonata  (D Minor Op.4 No. 8) , highlighted by the dancer’s Italian/Spanish interpretation of Court political inference and romantic innuendos. Very precise moves, slow and sensuous or cautiously frivolous, but proudly elegant at all times. 

Vivaldi’s  Double Concerto in A Minor RV522  with its forward-moving energised passages was a highlight, as was a harpsichord concerto by Domenico Paradies, when nimble fingers launched endless sequential chains with virtuosic keyboard flair. 

A short dance piece depicting a drunken female sailor  La Matelotte  by Marin Marais was amusingly illustrated by exaggerated inebriated footwork.  The final work of 14  short movements was a virtual compendium of Baroque dance. 

The quartet comprised Edita Keglerova (harpsichord), Szabolcs Illes and Jonathan Tanner (Baroque violins) and Tomas Hurnik (Baroque cello). 

Reviewed by Elizabeth Bouman

The Beautiful World of Baroque Music and Dance

St Paul’s Cathedral, Thursday, February 15 


" The five musicians managed a very impressive performance with remarkable tempi, unique in many ways for the individuality of single "voices'', particularly virtuosic input from Illes (violin soloist).   

                                                                                                    - Otago Daily


A good-sized audience in St Paul's Cathedral on Saturday evening was treated to a recital of music by the Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), performed on authentic period instruments by Szabolcs Illes (Hungary), Edita Keglerova (Czech Republic), Tomas Hurnik, Jonathan Tanner and Shelly Wilkinson.


The recital began with three Vivaldi short concerti, before the performance of his best known work Four Seasons. It was quite special to hear these works performed by such skilled instrumentalists. The vast acoustics of the venue did not detract from the delivery, although at times the harpsicord sound did not carry well.


Alla Rusitca RV 151 was a short three-movement work in similar vein to Four Seasons, and based on Dunedin's January seasonal weather could well have been included as an optional fifth movement for that masterpiece! Convincing statements with echoed repeats, well-defined cello passages and a feeling of lyricism highlighted the contrapuntal spirit in Triple Concerto RV 554a.


Concerto in D major RV 121 opened with a movement of robust unison statements and subtle affirmation, before a contrasting brief Adagio crammed with suspensions and resolved dissonance. The final Allegro raced away with bright capricious passages - so typically Vivaldi.

Lines of poetry added to the original score by Vivaldi were read before movements of Four Seasons, alerting the listener to brilliant bird-like solos, shepherds' pipes, wasps and storms. The five musicians managed a very impressive performance with remarkable tempi, unique in many ways for the individuality of single "voices'', particularly virtuosic input from Illes (violin soloist). 

Saturday's performance gave distinct clarity to the conversational character, sequential definition and changing moods of nature's four seasons.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Bouman


"This concert was a rare treat for Nelson, truly an enchanting evening."

        - Nelson Mail


An enticing aspect of this concert was the invitation it offered to step through the door of the 21st century into the 15th and 16th with music played on authentic instruments of the period by five outstanding musicians.

Baroque music tends to be associated almost exclusively with its two most well-known exponents, Bach and Handel, and a delightful aspect of this concert was the inclusion of work by so many lesser known luminaries such as Frescobaldi, Mascitti and Rosenmuller, which allowed for a broad appreciation of the era’s music.

There is rarely as compelling a sound as the haunting tone of the cello and the opening Cello Sonata in C Major by Jacchini set a rich musical atmosphere. Cellist Tomas Hurnik certainly knows how to make this instrument sing and this gave a depth and solidity to the music. His playing during ‘‘Affetuoso’’ from Geminiani’s Cello Sonata in C major was an exquisite example of fine tonality and musical skill.

Jonathan Le Cocq, a master of the Baroque guitar and Theorbo, gave a masterful performance throughout and delighted the audience with his rendition of Canario by de Murcia which would have inspired even the most professional guitarist.

Douglas Mews is a world class exponent of the harpsichord which he showed to full capacity throughout. His performance of Handel’s Suite No.2 was spellbinding.


Shelley Wilkinson, an experienced performer of the Baroque violin, made it sing effortlessly throughout.

Pepe Becker completed the ensemble with her stunning soprano voice that soared in the fine Nelson Cathedral acoustics in works by Monteverdi, Purcell and Handel.


This concert was a rare treat for Nelson, truly an enchanting evening.

Reviewed by Adrienne Matthews


"Vivaldi takes Nelson through all seasons in one day."

        - Nelson Mail


Solo violinist Szabolcs Illes from Hungary.

Baroque music is coming to Nelson with a recital of Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons.

Comprising five musicians, the tour has concerts in cathedrals and churches all over the South Island, including Christchurch and Dunedin.

Organizer Michelle Hurnik said all of the music was being played on period instruments, making the sound more ‘‘subtle and more direct’’.

The programme consists of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Concerto Alla Rusitca RV 151, Triple Concerto RV 554a for violin, cello and harpsichord and Concerto in D major RV 121.

Two of the five musicians are from Europe; solo violinist Szabolcs Illes from Hungary and harpsichordist Edita Keglerova from the Czech Republic.

From Christchurch there is cellist Tomas Hurnik and violinist Jonathan Tanner and violist Shelley Wilkinson is from Auckland.

Hurnik said the musicians had studied baroque music and authentic interpretation.

‘‘It’s just beautiful music, really gorgeous and the Four Seasons most people know.’’

The soloist for the evening is Illes, who studied with famous baroque violinists such as Enrico Gatti, Marinett Troost, Lucy van Dael and Simon Standage.

Since 2008, he has been a concertmaster of the Hof-Musici orchestra which is primarily working on the reconstruction and presentation of baroque operas with authentic instruments, costumes and original settings.

Hurnik said all the concerts were held in churches and cathedrals to make the most of the sound with good acoustics.

‘‘What is special about New Zealand is that we have a cathedral with amazing sound in every place.

‘‘It’s lovely to pair up European music with the New Zealand architecture, and have it work so beautifully.’’

Vivaldi – Four Seasons presented by The Baroque Music Community and Educational Trust of New Zealand at Nelson Christ Church Cathedral on February 19 at 2pm. Tickets $45 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $5 for children.


"The music itself is subtle - the beauty is quite amazing."

          - Mountain Scene - Voice of Queenstown


A rare chance to hear baroque music as it would sound when composed 400 years ago comes to Queenstown tonight.

Tomas Hurnik, associate cello principal with Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) brings a South Island Concert Tour to St Peter's Church.

Czech Hurnik is joined by Hungarian violinist Szabolcs Illes, a Czech harpsichord player Edita Keglerova and CSO violinist Phillippa Lodge.

They'll be playing period instruments in a period setting.

Hurnik says:"We play 415 hz (pitch) on gut strings - a completely different sound. I have a fascination with that sound. I was captured by it when my teacher introduced me to it aged 14-there's something magical about it. The period instruments compared with the modern ones are not so loud but because we're using a lower pitch, generally 415 which is a half tone lower, then the instrument is not under the same stress. So it has much more eloquence and a bigger range of harmonics. Its more colorful."

Hurnik explains Baroque music was written for venues with specific acoustics, usually churches or palace rooms.

"Once we use the gut strings we need the space for it to vibrate and mix the sound together," he says.

"The music itself is subtle - the beauty is quite amazing".

The concert will include trio sonatas composed by the likes of Handel, Purcell, Corelli, Gemininani and the more obscure Marini and Uccellini.

Hurnik:"(The term) trio sonatas is sometimes confusing because we are four - it means three voices, so two melodic and one bass line. With us, the bass line is played by two instruments, by harpsichord and cello."

The harpsichord itself, on loan from Canterbury University, is so sensitive it must be tuned before each concert and left in the venue for hours beforehand to acclimatize.

Hurnik, who spent a week rehearsing with the others for the tour, says the concert will trace the historical progression of baroque music through its period, from 1600 to 1750.

By Paul Taylor