Credit: Susanne Diesner

This time last month, Karl-Heinz Steffens had just returned from his triumphant debut in New Zealand, after stepping in at short notice to conduct the Auckland Philharmonia in a programme of Bach and Bruckner. The performance on the 2nd of May at Auckland Town Hall opened with J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concertos No.5, BWV 1056 & No.4, BWV 1055 with French soloist, David Fray and closed with Bruckner’s 9th Symphony. Steffens has since received glowing reviews:

I have never heard Bruckner earning wolf whistles from an audience, but on Thursday night they indicated the sheer elation after the Auckland Philharmonia’s noble account of the Austrian’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor. How fortunate we were to have maestro Steffens – a true Brucknerian…From the very beginning of Bruckner’s vast first movement, Steffens grasped the immense musical architecture of the piece; crisp woodwind, massive brass outbursts, and songful strings were skilfully and subtly woven together.’ 
William Dart, New Zealand Herald

Replacement conductor Karl-Heinz Steffens, who stood in for the previously advertised Johannes Fritzsch…appeared in total command of music and musicians and had the APO sounding magnificent.’ 
Peter Simpson, New Zealand Arts Review

Steffens had his work cut out as a late replacement conductor, but he showed a firm grasp on the piece…After the primal feel of the opening, Steffens really brought out the spacious majesty of the first movement, managing to continue to maintain tension across its broad length without ever sacrificing shape and cohesion.’ 
Simon Holden, Bachtrack