If you had closed your eyes during Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Baroque Voices concert, you might well have imagined yourself ensconced in 18th century splendour, under a spectacular Tiepolo ceiling.

Conductor Matthew Halls transported us back to glorious times with flair, prefacing Handel's Zadok the Priest with a punchy fanfare of his own devising.

Zadok stole upon us, with gentle waft of strings and woodwind, building up to that primal blast of choir and full orchestra, with the 24 singers of Voices NZ Chamber Choir displaying the vocal heft of three times that number.

Jesting that the concert was a festival in D major, allowing for trumpets to come into their own (which they did), Halls then delivered Bach's Third Orchestral Suite, with riveting momentum in its Overture and a joyous scamper through its final Gigue.


Following interval, Handel's Ode for St Cecilia's Day was a paean to the art so close to concert-goers' hearts. After an appropriately ceremonial overture, the tributes began.

Tenor Andrew Goodwin saluted the trumpet with martial style while Siobhan Stagg's exquisitely sung arias occasioned memorable duets with Eliah Sakakushev-von Bismarck's cello and Jennifer Seddon-Mori's flute.

The closing chorus, revealing the Day of Judgement, was the ultimate finale, with Handel, the eternal optimist and humanist, portraying global destruction and final reckonings in reassuringly monumental music.

What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Baroque Voices
Where: Auckland Town Hall
Reviewer: William Dart