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David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2014

Jack Body was born in New Zealand in 1944, and has become one of the nation’s leading composers, his music strongly linked with traditional Asian instruments. As you pass through a disc that surveys his quite substantial and varied output, you will find he has been much involved in the protest movement against the inhumanity of people towards other people. Opening with three arias from the opera Alley, the story is of a New Zealander, Rewi Alley, who lived in China for sixty years during which time it became a communist state. They are unusual in that they call for a baritone who can sing counter-tenor. Then we move to the atrocities perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia for My Name is Mok Bhon, this one person, who was tortured and killed in a notorious prison, representing the thousands who died there. Palaran: Poems of Love and War takes its inspiration from Javanese gamelan music, heard here in a version for Western Orchestra that features a Javanese soloist, Budi Surasa Putra, in the five varied texts. Scored for violin and orchestra, Meditations on Michelangelo takes its musical theme from seven of Michelangelo’s sonnets…it is a very beautiful score that uses the soloist ‘singing’ in sadness. Poems of Solitary Delights marries together Japanese and Western musical cultures in a pleasing score that includes parts for narrator and tenor. Always working in the world of tonal creation, it is an extremely varied disc, that I found fascinating. Of the soloists, David Greco, who performs the difficult role in Alley, is particularly outstanding, while the performances from the New Zealand Symphony are obviously dedicated and excellently recorded. © 2014 David’s Review Corner

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