The classics: April 16

Stephen Prock. Sojourn. NZ musicians. Rattle CD. 


Boston-based composer Stephan Prock is a film music scholar and freelance composer of contemporary music for soloists, chamber ensembles, orchestra, and film.

His music is widely performed in the US and abroad. He has a link with New Zealand that began in 2006 when he came to Wellington as senior lecturer in composition at the newly-formed New Zealand School of Music (NZSM).

He stayed until 2015, meeting many of this country's musicians, having what he called "an artistic and technical voyage of exploration that transformed my compositional outlook". This "radical evolution" can be heard on this fine 15-track disc where the performers are top-class Kiwi musicians.

I particularly enjoyed violinist Martin Riseley and pianist Mark Dorrell playing Stradivariazioni (written for them as a duo) in five excellent parts.

The CD opens with the effective Shakespeare Bitters in a three-part song cycle featuring the impressive singer Lisa Harper-Brown (soprano) and Mark Dorrell (piano).

A brilliant Italian flautist, Roberto Fabbriciani, plays a piece that he had commissioned aptly titled Baci sul vento (Kisses on the Wind.)

More vocal treats are provided by New Zealand's Margaret Medlyn (mezzo soprano) and Jian Liu (piano) in the five songs bracketed as Cages for the Wind. This makes a diverse and entertaining programme of a high standard, well recorded.

Prock terms this recording a "snapshot of my artistic journey in Aotearoa" and he says "the reverberations" of all he experienced here continues to shape his musical spirit. With this disc they echo back and can be heard as a gift to New Zealand.

Verdict: Excellent music stems from composer's NZ sojourn.

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