Classical reviews

> Hope is our Song. Viva Voce (choir). NZ Hymnbook Trust CD.

Listening in succession to 27 new hymns, songs and carols by New Zealand composers is not recommended. In small doses though this disc is refreshing and interesting.

Auckland chamber choir Viva Voce was formed to inject vitality and fresh ideas into the local choral scene. In its 25 years the choir has given over 350 performances and premiered many new compositions. It gives an excellent performance here.

Eight works have the experienced touch of Prof Colin Gibson, of Dunedin, who wrote words, music, or both (in two cases.)

I enjoyed his jaunty Matthew was a lonely man, joyful Always there's a carol, and more thoughtful Wisdom far beyond our knowledge. Such music greatly invigorates the traditional hymn repertoire. (Contact

Highlight: modern songs of praise.

> Diva Divo. Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano). National Opera of Lyon Orchestra and Choir. Virgin CD.

American singer DiDonato has the novel idea of combining "trouser" roles with "skirt" arias from the same opera or story. So in versions of Cinderella by Massenet and Rossini, she sings both Prince Charming and the heroine.

In Mozart's Figaro she switches from Susanna to Cherubino, and displays her ambidexterity both as Bellini's Romeo and Berlioz's Juliet.

The diva/divo has a flair for characterisation as well as great range and flexibility of voice, winning Gramophone magazine's 2010 "artist of the year".

This is a playful programme with its interesting theme but it still displays the ease with which the soloist's glorious voice copes with fiendish coloratura ornaments and trills. Kazushi Ono conducts the accompanying orchestra.

Highlight: vibrant singer in tour de force.

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