Sunday, August 31, 2008

On the Street Where I Live

We’re so serious about our New Zealand music. I’ve just been watching Jack Body’s On the Street Where I Live, which features Stephen de Pledge playing the piano, and Body’s (disembodied) voice talking casually about his house.
At the end of the video we have a quite unnecessary few moments of Body himself telling us something about the piece. But what is there to tell? It’s all there in the work: a composer chatting on about his house, the birds, the street; a pianist fitting in a random bunch of notes that sometimes fit neatly to the words, most often merely trickle around them. Seldom do they add much to the speech, which is a pity, because it’s plain that Body could have done something with more depth in it. What he says is simple and charming; what the music does is just twitter away in the modernist style, offering little for the listener to get hold of, and doing a few crashes when Body talks about being overwhelmed by stuff in the house, and a few knocks and whistles when he talks about birds.
The music's about as interesting as office furniture. It's there for the voice to sit on, but contributes nothing to the listener.
Stephen de Pledge plays it all with a seriousness that probably mostly comes from having to concentrate deeply in order to make sure he fits in with the recorded voice. And he does that perfectly. Full marks to him, at least.


Tim Jones said...

Gareth Farr is one New Zealand composer who isn't all serious, all the time - and I find his work more accessible than that of some other New Zealand classical composers. What do you think of his work?

Mike Crowl said...

I really enjoy most of Gareth Farr's work. I've written several posts about him on this blog, in fact - for some reason someone looking up 'Gareth Farr naked' as a search query lit upon my blog. Don't ask me why.
Stephen de Pledge plays one of Farr's pieces in the same series (Landscapes) that the Body work appeared in. It's a bit repetitive, but would probably be more listenable on a regular basis than Body's. I'm just not a great Body fan...

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Mike - I will drill down further in your blog to find them.