Christopher Blake: Angel at Ahipara; The Strings of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Kenneth Young; 1 CD Atoll ACD441; 4/11 (65'25) - Reviewed by Remy Franck

At the beginning there was a landscape, Northland, located on the North Auckland Peninsula in New Zealand. There, photographer Robin Morrison made four photos that deeply inspired composer Christopher Blake (*1949). He wrote four orchestral works, the title giving ‘Angel at Ahipara’ being the first one, showing the statue of an angel at a cemetery. ‘Night Journey to Pawarenga’ refers to a small church. ‘Christ at Whangape’ is a sculpture of Christ on the Cross while ‘Anthem on the Kaipara’, the last work, also is drawn from the picture of a Cemetery – it delivers a musical homage to those pioneers who once sailed to New Zealand.

Blake clearly wanted to create a kind of spiritual music. This becomes obvious not only by the subjects but also by the fact that he gave each of the four works seven movements – the holy and magic number 7! For each of the pieces he set up a precise program which the music follows in a very narrative way. This music is written in a rather traditional manner and, though dissonant from time to time, it requires no special effort to be listened to, except attention and openness. Most of what we hear is calm, idyllic, pastoral, contemplating, often melancholic, sometimes more dramatic. Some parts are expressive in an overwhelming way.

The four works are beautifully played by the strings of the New Zealand Symphony and form a highly recommendable CD.

Quatre photos – une statue d’ange, une église, un Christ sur la Croix et un cimetière – ont inspiré une musique spirituelle d’une grande beauté au compositeur néo-zélandais Christopher Blake.

Vier Photos – eine Engelsstatue, eine Kirche, Christus am Kreuz, ein Friedhof – inspirierten den neuseeländischen Komponisten Christopher Blake zu einer spirituellen Musik von großer Schönheit.

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