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Reviewed by Wade Donk

Henry Wong Doe: Landscape Preludes

Reviewed by Wade Donk

Henry Wong Doe: Landscape Preludes

On this Rattle release, pianist Henry Wong Doe covers impressionist works from some of NZ’s great contemporary composers like John Psathas and Victoria Kelly. The layers overlap and mingle, setting the mood and enticing the ear and mind.

Arapatiki is a fitting introduction, starting with a fluorescent combination of notes that is kaleidoscopic, inspired by the korimako bellbird’s own song. It is backed by the rise and fall of grand, ominous tones. With Piano Prelude the imagery of ‘Landscape Preludes’ becomes apparent as the deep and broad nuances escalate into different aspects. Chromatic or opposing, lyrical and then conflicted, filled with emotion and resistance. Track three, Chiaroscuro, is a series of ricocheting crescendos that cast a gentle shadow of dark impression near its end, giving depth to its own impression. The Horizon From Owhiro Bay is a piece that leads with a rising and falling mixolodyian air with steady pace and increasing depth and intensity. Terrain Vague dances with light gestures and then makes seemingly impossible combinations which are daring and satisfying. This leads to The Street Where I Live, a spoken poem, accompanied by a wandering piano accompaniment, which speaks of life and death in the landscape of NZ. Machine Noises is an audacious recording where Henry’s finesse and style elevate the heavy, chaotic industrial tones of the piece. To close there’s Goodnight Kiwi, a variable lullaby, with moments of beauty, sadness and something else. This collection is for anyone wanting their diverse selection piano landscapes to be of contrast, emotion and paradox.