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REVIEW: Janet Jennings' 'Play-Pen' CD (Geoff Adams, Otago Daily Times, July 2019)

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From the Otago Daily Times, 5 July, 2019:

"Do not be fooled by this album title: here is music that will have universal appeal for a wide classical audience. New Zealand composer Janet Jennings specialises in setting text to music and this excellent recording has fine examples of this. It opens with All the World's a Stage for voice, flute and piano, which is inspired from Shakespeare's famous writing. The prologue and portraits of the "seven ages" of man are expressed delightfully. Later, A Bird, a Fruit, and a Beast uses the poetry of DH Lawrence to great effect in three pieces for flute, bassoon and piano, titled Humming Bird, Peach and Bat. They are all very effective.

Inspired no doubt by Mussorgsky's famous Pictures at an Exhibition, Jennings has also written a very enjoyable set of five "character" piano pieces titled Pictures at the Waikato Museum. The second one is Play-Pen, inspired by artist Jenny Dolefel's painting (reproduced on the cover of the CD booklet). Also portrayed are Lace, The Leading Violinist, Landscape with Cathedral and Grandparents at the Door. All are beautifully played by the Kiwi-born pianist now based in Melbourne.

The remaining work is Prelude, Fugue, Variations and Chaconne for flute, bassoon and piano. Janet Jennings shows here she can also connect with the musical past. She provides an analysis of this work in the detailed notes she provides for the whole programme.

Verdict: Beautiful performances of impressive works."

-- Geoff Adams --