For many, the Auckland Festival AK07 opened with fireworks in the Domain; for those fortunate enough to be in the Town Hall on Sunday, Fire-Wind-Water closed the fortnight with the musical equivalent. This was a concert for our times, with three works all written within the past 25 years, music by an American, a Japanese and a New Zealander, each offering different perspectives on living around the Pacific.
The evening was also a celebration of the Auckland Philharmonia at its most dynamic, conducted by firebrand Giancarlo Guerrero.
Farr's shortish Rangitoto was a decibellic onslaught. Subtle it is not, but what grinch could deny its high-spirited, sensual immediacy? Farr's seismics were followed by the wafting textures of Takemitsu's From Me Flows What You Call Time, a work immersed in the same sonic ethos that has the Japanese finding music in the rustling of leaves.
The orchestra contributed with the poetry of shakuhachi-like flute and other wind solos, chord sequences on strings and brass echoing Debussy and the coolest of jazz.
This was meditation as theatre, as percussionists entered tinkling tiny cymbals, took time into their own hands with bewitching improv passages, eventually trailing up festooning ribbons to the heavenly tinkle of wind-chimes.
After interval, John Adams' Harmonielehre picked up where AK05's The Death of Klinghoffer left off. This 1985 work was a symphony in all but name, its philosophical underpinnings transmuted into pulsating colours and rhythms.
If Bernstein once described Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique in terms of an LSD trip, then this too took us into fantastical realms. While the outer movements delivered bold pillars of chords with percussionists rushing from instrument to instrument, the middle movement made connections with Takemitsu's world in its floating Debussian harmonies.
If you missed out, make sure you catch it when Radio New Zealand Concert broadcasts the concert in late June.