Saturday, December 30, 2006

Gareth Farr

For quite some time I resisted Gareth Farr as a composer. He seemed to be the bright boy of Concert FM - they were always playing his music, which to me was mostly sound and fury. Certainly it is high octane stuff, full of energy, often with lots of percussion hammering away and leaving the strings and woodwind for dust, but it's more than all this.

Some months ago I borrowed the CD, Warriors from Pluto, from the library. It has several pieces by Farr on it: Naga Baba, Te Parenga, Warriors from Pluto, Nga Tai Hurihuri, and, Time and Tide. I had to listen to it while attending to shop work, and didn't always take it all in. But I did find there were enough passages in the CD for me to be more comfortable with Farr's music. It happened that I found a copy for sale on Trade Me not long ago, and I bought it. I've played it often since then - in fact I don't think it's been out of the CD player since I got it.

Not that everything about the music grabs me - I don't go overboard for all of Nga Tai Hurihuri with its mix of Maori kaikaranga and operatic vocals - but I love the mix of violin solo and marimba in Time and Tide, as they swirl back and forward amongst the other instruments. And there is real excitement and virtuoso playing in Naga Baba with its swift-moving woodwind.

There are no samples of any of the pieces I've talked about on Farr's site, but you can hear some of From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs, which will give you a fairly good indication of his orchestral style. And there are other samples too: his string quartet music, which has that same energy that pervades most of his work.

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