Publicity for this New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Great Masterworks concert may have headlined Mozart and Beethoven but John Adams' Shaker Loops equally deserved that status.

In a performance informed by his close associations with the American composer, conductor Edo de Waart explored the shimmering ambiguities of this minimalist classic.

Adams has praised this conductor's care with quality of sound and tonight, orchestral strings so mesmerised that one could have been forgiven for hearing timpani from gruff basses and piccolo in stratospheric violin harmonics.

On stage, Martin Frost exuded nervy intensity, but the Swedish clarinetist's Mozart concerto was rendered with an unswerving luminosity of tone, in both the ripple of passage work and the dark radiance of low chalumeau notes.


Scandinavian clarinet players must like their klezmer. In 2009 the Finn Kari Kriikku dished up an uber-klezmer encore and tonight Frost did the same, with a level of virtuosity that would earn him a professorship in any Klezmer Conservatory.

I had gone along perfectly content with life in the inner suburbs but, after interval, a persuasive Pastoral Symphony did have me pondering possible joys beyond city limits.

A big, generous, Panavision soundworld worked well for the storm and rustic merrymaking, with the prescient minimalism of Beethoven's first movement neatly connecting with the Adams from earlier in the evening.

What: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Friday