Malcolm Williamson (1931-) - Lento for Strings
Sydney, but settled in England by the age of 21, Williamson has never ceased
to promote the Australian aboriginal culture. Allied to that, and born
of his profound religious beliefs, is his humanitarian work for other minority
groups, including the disabled. He also loves writing for, and working
with, children (possibly the supreme challenge?).
as diverse as Britten, jazz and popular music, and (rather less obviously)
Messiaen, he has developed an idiosyncratic but eminently approachable
style, and composed in a wide variety of forms. Yet, notwithstanding his
elevation to the dizzy heights of Master of the Queen's Music in 1975,
like Arnold he remains one of those composers punished by neglect for the
cardinal sin of flying in the face of the Brave New World of Total Serialism,
that is, writing music that could be readily appreciated and enjoyed by
the general public.
says he particularly enjoys the string orchestra's infinite flexibility,
relishing the challenge equally whether writing for virtuosi or “non-specialists”.
This Lento is a little gem, from which reflect occasional glimpses
of the influence of Messiaen in a fine balance between saccharine and citric
acid. Imagine how easily it would accommodate the soulful sound of an Ondes
Martenot threading through its texture! This short, arching dissertation
on a meltingly tender melody is captivatingly prevented from lapsing into
sentimentality by strategically placed harmonic booby traps. Demand an
© Paul Serotsky
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