Shadows Crossing Water

Shadows Crossing Water

Gillian Whitehead




Gillian Whitehead

Stamic Quartet
Jindřich Pazdera (violin)
Vilém Veverka (oboe)
Patricia Goodson (piano)

2018 Release date to be confirmed


This project began with a concert of my music in Prague in 2012, curated by American-born Prague-based pianist Patricia Goodson and featuring some of Prague's most respected musicians, including the Stamic Quartet, oboist Vilém Veverka, and Patricia on piano.

Subsequently, with funding from Creative New Zealand, my sextet for string quartet, oboe and piano, Shadows cross the water, was commissioned and premiered in the EuroArts Festival in Prague in 2014. With the prospect of two further performances in Berlin in 2016, one in the Czech Embassy and another in the Matthäus- Kirche, we decided to capitalize on the opportunity and record the pieces in Prague. The music was recorded in late 2016 and early 2017 by one of the best Czech audio engineers, Ondřej Urban.

This is an important album for me, containing several substantial pieces that are very close to my heart. The programme consists of eight pieces that span my compositional career, from Three improvisations for solo oboe (1963) to Shadows cross the water (2016). The recording features six outstanding musicians, artists who are sympathetic to my music and perform it brilliantly with authority and understanding.

Gillian Whitehead, October 2017


Produced by Markéta Janáčková
Recorded by Ondřej Urban at Sound Studio HAMU, Prague
Design by UnkleFranc
Printing by Studio Q




Gillian Whitehead, Patricia Goodson, and Rattle Records extend their warmest thanks for the generous support of Fleur Adcock, Louise Beer, Jim Bramlett, John and Julie Cabaniss, Robert Carew and Scilla Askew, Rodney Edmondson, John Elmsly, Mary Ensor, Erika Fox, George R. Goodson Jr., Carol Grant, Franci Hibbert, Ivan Karhan, Yorke Lawson, Dr. John Mattern, Augusta Leigh McDonald, Cathie McGowan, Ann Speirs, Janet S. Thomson, and Chris Wilson. Special thanks to Mary Ensor and Marcela Jakubská.



liner notes



01 Clouds over Mata-au
for string quartet (7:55)

In 2010 I was fortunate to hold a residency run by the Henderson Arts Trust and to live for a while in the house designed by Austrian architect Ernst Plischke, which is built high above the powerful Mata-au (Clutha) river in Central Otago. The first of two string quartets on this album, Clouds over Mata-au was the last piece I wrote in that evocative landscape. It was premiered in Prague by the Stamic Quartet.


02 Three Improvisations for solo oboe

I wrote these pieces in 1963 as an undergraduate at Victoria University of Wellington. They are not really improvisations (I wasn't very good at naming pieces back then), but I'm still happy with them all these years later.


03 Arapātiki
for solo piano (5:32)

Commissioned by pianist Stephen De Pledge for his Landscape Preludes project, Arapātiki translates from the Māori language as 'the path of the flounder'. It refers to the sand flats in front of my house on the Otago peninsula, and the two main ideas in the piece are based on the inexorable ebb and flow of the tide and the call of the korimako (bellbird).


04 Tom's serenade for Ann Morris
for oboe, violin, viola and cello (13:45)

While I was composer-in-residence with the Auckland Philharmonia in 2001, Tom Morris (a great supporter of the orchestra) bought a piece of mine at a fund-raising auction for the orchestra. He named the piece for his wife, Ann, and requested it for the specific orchestral players he had sponsored.


05 Tūmanako: Journey through an unknown landscape
for solo piano (6:37)

This piano piece was also the result of a fund-raising auction, this time for SOUNZ. Dedicated to the grandchildren of the successful bidder, Helen Kominik, Tūmanako translates (which translates as ‘hope’) was the name of Helen’s childhood home. Written shortly after I returned from Yunnan, a province in southwest China, the piece evokes a journey through a landscape where you know nothing beyond what you actually see, and also a journey through a musical score.


06 No stars, not even clouds
for string quartet (9:45)

This is a single movement piece commissioned by Chamber Music New Zealand in 2012 for the New York-based Enso quartet.


07 Tōrua
for violin and piano (4:45)

Commissioned by Hilary Hahn for her 27 Encores project, I began writing this piece for violin and piano in February 2011 just as the second devastating Christchurch earthquake shook the country, and something of this event affected the work. The Māori title embodies ideas of duet, pattern weaving, and a change of wind or current. I've used a different song of the korimako here.


08 Shadows cross the water
for oboe, piano, and string quartet (17:25)

2014 marked the seventieth anniversary of the arrival of New Zealand’s first refugees, more than 700 Polish children who were cared for at a specially prepared camp at Pahīatua, which led me to consider the terrible and dislocating movement of children in times of war. As I wrote this piece, two significant and dear friends – Peter Maxwell Davies and Jack Body – were terminally ill, so there are many interpretations of the title (which was taken from a Greg O'Brien poem).


All compositions © Gillian Whitehead





Gillian Whitehead


After studying with Peter Maxwell Davies in the UK, Gillian worked as a free-lance composer in Europe and Australia before returning to New Zealand. Her compositional practice over many years has established her as a major Australasian composer. Her music is widely performed, broadcast, and recorded, and includes operas and monodramas, pieces for orchestra, choir, and other large ensembles, as well as numerous chamber, vocal, and solo pieces, and collaborations within improvisational contexts that frequently feature taonga pūoro. In 2000 she was honoured by becoming one of five inaugural Arts Foundation of New Zealand laureates. Three times winner of the SOUNZ Contemporary Award, she received an honorary doctorate from Victoria University in 2003, the CANZ Citation for Services to New Zealand Music in 2007, and the DCNZM for services to music in 2008.



Stamic Quartet


Founded in 1985, the Stamic Quartet quickly emerged as one of the Czech Republic's leading chamber ensembles. They have performed well over 2000 concerts in 20 countries, and have recorded more than 80 CDs, twice winning the Grand Prix du Disque as well as the Diapason d'Or. As resident ensemble with the EuroArt Praha Festival, they explore a broad repertoire and collaborate frequently with international artists.



Jindřich Pazdera, violin


After studies in Moscow with Leonid Kogan, violinist Jindřich went on to perform as a soloist and chamber musician in more than 20 countries around the world. Numerous compositions have been dedicated to him. As well as serving as first violin in the Stamic Quartet, he is professor of violin at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.



Vilém Veverka, oboe


A graduate of Prague's Academy of Performing Arts, oboist Vilém is equally at home with repertoire ranging from the most demanding of contemporary pieces to the Baroque. He won a Karajan Foundation grant that underwrote a two-year stint in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and he is a frequent soloist with orchestras and chamber ensembles all over the world. Together with members of the Berlin Philharmonic, he founded the Ensemble Berlin-Prag, and he has released four albums on the Supraphon label.



Patricia Goodson, piano


A long-time resident of Prague, American pianist Patricia is active as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe and North America. In addition to extensive work with contemporary composers, she made the world premiere recording of the complete piano works of Czech romantic composer Joseph B. Foerster. She is on the piano faculty of New York University in Prague.