A collaboration between Rattle Records, Victoria University Press and the Wallace Arts Trust this collection of Landscape Preludes features the exquisite playing of Henry Wong Doe as he glides and surges through work by a dozen of New Zealand’s best contemporary composers. Hear him alternate between strident and playful, dancing across the lines of Jenny McLeod’s Tone Clock XVIII, Victoria Kelly’s Goodnight Kiwi is gorgeous – pulling at heartstrings, issuing notes of nostalgia but elsewhere Henry Wong Doe finds humour as cat and mouse-like he jousts in the lovely little spaces around Jack Body’s voice as he recites a tale of buying a house and making a home on The Street Where I Live.
That idea of humour – a sound of humour – continues over Sleeper by John Psathas. It seems Psathas is on a roll currently, his commissioned pieces, soundtrack work and short compositions such as this all seeking to find and define new space, never repeating himself, always bringing in something new and fresh. Wong Doe’s cascades across the keys help to tell a beautiful and surprising story here.
There are pieces by Dame Gillian Whitehead (the opening Arapatiki – with its nocturnal stirrings) Ross Harris, Samuel Holloway and Gareth Farr. And Wong Doe is so respectful in his playing, bringing out the sound of each composer, their voice entwined in his playing. It’s a masterclass of playing styles, the equivalent of learning a new language to determine each piece and it therefore works as both a sampler to showcase Wong Doe’s skills and a fine cross-section of composing styles and standout pieces from some of New Zealand’s best-known contemporary composers; a must-have then for both fair-weather types and the anoraks.