The music of Eve de Castro-Robinson is well represented on CD, with three fine albums on the Atoll label.

All feature New Zealand cover art, most memorably in the delicate avian explosion of Peter Madden's Birds on 2011's Releasing the Angel.

De Castro-Robinson's latest release finds her in collaboration with photographer Harvey Benge. And so, while you listen to Dean Sky-Lucas lay out the extraordinary sound worlds of two 12-minute piano pieces, you can contemplate 29 images by Benge; images that, like this music, search out ironies and coincidences with a clear eye and dry wit.

While the photographer is better served with the luxurious, limited edition, vinyl release launched last year, a recent CD presentation is much more practical in terms of making the music available.

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The first work, Ring True, dates from 2003 and, with the imagination and studio know-how of Rattle's Steve Garden, the music presents a unique sonic response to images from writing by Shelley and Emily Dickinson that inspired it.

Dickinson's "music as numerous as space" travels from tremulous whispers and handbell to almost apocalyptic tam-tam and cluster chords; Shelley's "wild dissolving bliss" provokes an etude with soul, clarity and sinister stalking bass.

De Castro-Robinson's And the garden was full of voices was written in 2010 for the remarkable vocalising pianist, Gao Ping.

Delving inside the piano case lends an oriental ambience to the voice-laden garden of Bill Manhire's poem while, mid-piece, Sky-Lucas uses his countertenorial skills to illuminate a "moon darkened by song."

Review: Eve de Castro-Robinson, I stayed a minute


(Rattle, through Ode records)
Verdict:

NZ composer proves herself an intrepid sound world explorer