Light in dark
Light in dark is a compendium of piano works by composer Tom Henry. There are a number of different stylistic influences in this newly recorded selection including jazz, pop, the diverse influences of renaissance polyphony, and 20th century modernism.
While Tom Henry spent his early years preoccupied with the velvety, golden sound of the flute, this CD charts his later and enduring love affair with the piano. From his first short works for solo piano, through to his immensely complex and challenging two piano sonatas, Light in dark charts the musical journey of 20 years in the life of a composer.
Pianist Jennifer Enchelmaier, the composer’s long-time collaborator, brings to each of the works on this CD her unmistakeable warm and lyrical touch.
The title Light in dark comes from the second movement of his Three Pieces for Piano, and is dedicated to Henry’s former composition teacher, the late Lawrence Whiffin. It’s appropriate that the CD title comes from this work, as it stands about midway in Henry’s musical output for the piano. The works on the CD are therefore extremely varied, even including a touch of Broadway!
Jennifer Enchelmaier is a sought-after collaborative pianist and language/diction coach for singers. She was recently appointed to sessional staff at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, coaching and accompanying the post-graduate opera class, and was an accompanist for the 2022 Queensland Vocal Competition Festival.
“Tom Henry’s Light in Dark conveys the composer’s intriguing journey over a two-decade period, with all its twists, turns and resolutions. The thing to note first and foremost about Tom Henry’s compositions is that every sonority is considered, and then considered again before a commitment is made to it. Light in Dark, an album inclusive of all his solo piano works to date, provides abundant evidence of this fact. Generous album that it is, with more than an hour of listening, it demonstrates diversity of expression, from Henry’s searching and life-tentative Piano Sonata No. 1, to his fluidic and highly romantic Songs Without Words and the more recent, ebullient, Piano Sonata No. 2. The style of these works has altered over a twenty-year period and been particularly influenced by his teachers. However, as Henry notes, there is ‘a creative tension between tradition and modernity’ across his oeuvre. But there seems an acceptance of the influence of these differing styles in his later works, which contribute to the unique sound he has developed in their combination. Jennifer Enchelmaier is the fine performer on Light in Dark. Having previously interpreted Henry’s earlier works, she demonstrates her profound understanding of his music, which is often highly complex, and always demanding attention to nuance. Henry provides extensive notes on the works presented in Light in Dark. His compositional journey is intriguing with the last work on it ultimately a natural culmination of what has come before. Tracing that path by engaging with his music, particularly with the consistency of Enchelmaier’s wonderful interpretations, is both a privilege and a delight.”Read full review
— Mandy Stefanakis, Music Trust e-zine Loud Mouth
“Why not take all of me. One of the oddest anthologies I’ve come across, this CD features all the (till-now) known piano solo music by Tom Henry, a Melbourne-based composer who began his career path as a flautist before changing to the more idealistic, top-of-the-class transcendental role of a composer. He has an ideal interpreter in Enchelmaier who lavishes her skills on rich and poor alike – or perhaps it would be better to distinguish between the junior and the elder, the tyro and the proficient, the smooth and the rough. What is apparent is that Henry travelled through a not-uncommon creative trajectory that began with imitations of the masters, then switched overnight to a cracker-jack contemporary style which takes the wind out of your sails through its stark contrast. You have to take your hat off to Henry who reveals every part of his achievements on this disc; it’s not a Greatest Hits selection but the entire oeuvre that he has written (so far) for solo piano. He shows us his beginnings with a late (and sometimes middle) 19th century bent, using the conventions of that time (in fact, there’s rather a lot of these pieces, as they take over half-an hour of the CD’s 72 minutes’ length); then comes the abrupt shift to a world of technique-shaking demands familiar to us survivors of the challenges promulgated by Bussotti, Berio and Kagel (not to mention the apparent insanities committed to manuscript by Pousseur and Ferneyhough); finally, it’s an arrival at the ‘new lyricism’ where ev’ry compositional mountain and hill is made low. All of this makes for a refreshing, wholesome hejira, one that is probably not completed. Along his path, Henry has been gifted with a sympathetic and conscientious interpreter who exerts her considerable interpretative craft across each of these 21 tracks.”Read full review
— Clive O'Connell, O'Connell the Music
“Pianist Jennifer Enchelmaier, the composer’s long-time collaborator, brings to each of the works on this CD her unmistakeable warm and lyrical touch. If you have even a passing interest in modern repertoire, or just love a bit of piano music, you must get this album and give your ears a treat.”Read full review
— Kate Rockstron, Readings Monthly
- I. Like an omen
- II. Sensual and languid
- III. Calm and flowing
- I. Andante
- II. Piu agitato
- III. Molto allegro
- I. Pop song
- II. April 2005 "In stillness"
- III. Film theme
- A sad story
- I. Remembrance
- II. Nocturne
- III. New York
- I. Intermezzo
- II. Light in dark
- III. Toccata
- I. Theme
- II. Variations
- III. Moto perpetuo
- Piano Sonata No. 2 (2018) (‘on the name of Grevis Beard’) Tom Henry
Ecstatic preludes (2005) Tom Henry
Three short pieces for piano (2005) Tom Henry
Studies for modern times (2005) Tom Henry
Pieces for children (2006) Tom Henry
Songs without words (2003-2006) Tom Henry
Three pieces for piano (2010) Tom Henry
Piano Sonata No. 1 (2006, revised 2011) Tom Henry
- Jennifer Enchelmaier · piano
Tom Henry is an Australian composer who has written works for solo piano, organ, voice, choir, chamber ensemble and orchestra. His works have been performed in Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Canada.
Where to buy
Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.