Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stephen de Pledge Pieces

Stephen de Pledge premiered a NZ piano ‘work’ at his concert in the 2008 New Zealand International Arts Festival. The work consists of 12 piano pieces by New Zealand composers, including Ross Harris, Michael Norris, Samuel Holloway, Jenny McLeod, Dylan Lardelli, Eve de Castro Robinson, John Psathas, Jack Body and Gareth Farr. Half of the pieces had been played before in other circumstances; for the rest it was a true premiere. For the work as a whole it was a world premiere.
Each piece is in response to ‘landscape’ and of course the responses vary enormously. They sound like the sorts of pieces I’d like to get my fingers on (literally) but I know that they’ll have virtuoso difficulties which I don’t think I’ve got the energy any more to tackle.
There’s a good and detailed review of the concert by Robbie Ellis on scoop, though we could probably have done without the rather snide comments at the end about someone unwrapping a lozenge at a snail’s pace during the concert. That sort of addition to a review does nothing for the reviewer; rather it makes him sound pompous.
Robbie is least satisfied with Jack Body’s piece, which, with its accompanying track of Body himself chauntering on, seemed out of place with the rest of the purely piano items. Robbie allows Body his humour – “an utterly charming and piquant jaunt of whimsy” – but you get the impression he didn’t feel it worked as well as the other pices.
On the SOUNZ site they say about Body’s piece: ‘Jack Body's The Street Where I Live, was sublimely humorous. A fellow composer was heard to affectionately remark afterwards that he thought "Jack had out-Satied Satie!"”
I doubt that, but then I’m not a Body fan. (He’s in the same category, as far as I’m concerned, as my old nemesis, Lilburn: the much over-rated category.) ‘Sublimely humorous?’ Sublimely overstated.
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