The Classics: December 1

Anthony Ritchie: Symphony No.4 ''Stations''. Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. Atoll CD.

This new work by a local composer was written for the Christchurch orchestra (dramatic sounds here, conducted by Tom Woods), dedicated to ''those in Christchurch who have suffered in the earthquakes'' of 2010 and 2011.

The work's principal point of reference was a publication entitled The Way of the Cross, which brought together images of the 14 controversial sculptures that Llew Summers crafted for the Christchurch Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in 2000.

The music successfully crafts a parallel between the sufferings of Christ and that of the quake city, with soprano Jenny Wollerman singing poems by Bernadette Hall, an important part in the 14 sections.

There are clever references to Bach, and I appreciated dramatic links with Maxwell Davies' modern sounds.

Highlight: Effective and moving magnum opus.

 


''Landscape Preludes''. Henry Wong Due (piano). Rattle CD

This disc also refers to our precious land, and consists of 12 piano pieces composed (2003-07) by 12 different New Zealand composers.

They were commissioned by Stephen De Pledge (who gave their premieres) but brilliantly played here by Wong Due, a New York-based Kiwi.

There are excellent pieces here by well-known composers (Body, de Castro Robinson, Farr, McLeod, Psathas, etc) the recital ending cheekily with Goodnight Kiwi.

This makes a suite of contrasting approaches to our landscapes, yet also provides interesting links between them, viewed as a virtuoso piano concert.

Variety of effects enlivens the ears, arguing that to pick out favourites is unfair. But don't miss Creswell's Chiaroscuro, Harris' A Landscape With Too Few Lovers, Whitehead's Arapatiki and Norris' Machine Noise.

Highlight: Inspiring insights into landscapes.


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