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No. 40 (September 1962)
– 52 –

Records

The Maranga Club
[Kiwi LC-3 12in. 33]1/3 LP

This is a Maori disc with a difference. There is not one action song or haka to be heard in the recording, which consists mainly of items of a religious or semi-religious nature. The record is notable as presenting two compositions of considerable interest by a Maori composer, Arapeta Awatere. The first, ‘Maranga’, shows a skilful blending of the old and new in Maori musical idiom and some attractive part singing. Opinion will doubtless be divided on the merits of superimposing narration on choral items although this does make a Maori composition more intelligibile to Pakehas. The second work, ‘He Tangi mo Maharaia Winiata’, also contains some good singing. Unfortunately the narration accompanying it is most indistinct.

Two popular songs, ‘He Rau Tutu’ and ‘Pokarekare’, are included. ‘Pokarekare’ is the most obvious example of a fault from which most of the items suffer—repetition rather than progression. In this song two verses are sung twice through and one is sung four times, each verse being interspersed with the chorus. The listener who does not understand Maori and have the interest of the words to sustain him will grow tired long before the song comes to an overdue close. The major work ‘Maranga’ is similarly marred a little by overstatement of its themes. By and large however, it is a composition of beauty and originality and a welcome addition to the repertoire of Maori music.

The singing of the choir is disciplined and precise and the conductor, Mr Awatere, keeps a firm hand on them to prevent the stridency which often mars Maori choral singing. The solo singing however is curiously expressionless. I have a feeling that there is more scope for adventurous harmonies with this fine choir than is evident on the record, but doubtless it is only a beginning. A serious school of modern Maori music embodying a harmonious blending of the traditional and the twentieth century has yet to come but ‘Maranga’ could well be the forerunner of such a development.