Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Gallery of Sound gave five local composers the challenge of having their responses to New Zealand artworks alongside the Mussorgsky-Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition.

Russian composer Mussorgsky's pictorial promenade, deftly conducted by Hamish McKeich, signed the evening off. It easily ensnared the good-sized audience, drawing spontaneous applause for Reuben Chin's twilight-toned saxophone.

Where Mussorgsky evokes images in a few incisive minutes, our composers took between eight and 12. Each piece was presented with artwork projected overhead and an intensely delivered introduction by Amber Read that didn't compensate for the absence of a printed programme.

It was a colour-fest, with many calling for the bull-roarer or purerehua, even if composer Chris Adams' PVC tubes did create the surreal image of sound artist Phil Dadson's From Scratch at play in Van der Velden's Otira Gorge painting.

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Glen Downie caught Jean Horsley's Hot Coals with a Mexican sonic wave emanating from and returning to a crackling percussion section. Sarah Ballard realised Chapman-Taylor's whimsical dancer artwork by putting Chelsea Prastiti's free-form, but ultimately distracting vocals, over highly finessed textures.

Artist Gretchen Albrecht, in the audience, inspired two offerings. Reuben Jelleyman took to a 1970s abstract with teasing eruptions of sound that might have had more flow and buoyancy. Linda Dallimore, focusing on a later painting, found musical sustenance and form in its hemisphere, peaking with a bold progression of implacably shifting harmonies.

What: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
Reviewer: William Dart