Peter Tahourdin (born in 1928) studied with Richard Arnell at Trinity College
of Music, London. Settling in Australia in 1964, he became visiting composer
to the University of Adelaide. There, five years later, Tahourdin established
the first practical course in electronic music in Australia. In 1973, he
was appointed lecturer in composition at the University of Melbourne's Faculty
of Music. The earliest piece in Peter Tahourdin's current catalogue of works
is the Sinfonietta no1 of 1952. This was followed by a second Sinfonietta
in 1959. Both these attractive, well-crafted light orchestral works are still
available on hire from Peters Edition. He wrote his first symphony in England
in 1960. This closely-argued and immensely enjoyable tonal symphony proved
the composer's natural gifts as a symphonist. Indeed, he has written four
more examples in the genre (1969, 1979, 1987 and 1994). All have received
performances with the exception of the fifth which is still awaiting its
premiere. They constitute important markers in the composer's career and
deserve wider dissemination through performances, broadcasts and recordings.
His other compositions range from orchestral to choral, stage works (including
a one-act opera, "Inside Information" (1955) and a one-act ballet, "Illyria"
(1965)), electronic pieces, instrumental works, pieces for tape and educational
works (including a one-act opera for children, Parrot Pie (1973). Scores
and performance material of the compositions of Peter Tahourdin may be obtained
from the Australian Music Centre PO Box N690, Grosvenor Place, NSW 1220,
Australia Tel: 61-2-9247 4677 or Fax: 61-2-9241 2873.
This CD includes an impressive cross-section of his chamber pieces covering
a span of 24 years. All the works assembled on the disc are strongly argued,
demanding and repaying repeated hearing. The language is atonal and sometimes
uncompromisingly tough but the musical arguments are not difficult to follow.
They merely require concentrated listening. The CD includes two attractive
vocal works (Raga Music 1 of 1985, an exotically scored creative interpretation
of Gerard Manley Hopkins' "The Starlight Night" and Songs of Love and Fortune,
a vibrant 1992 setting of five poems from the Carmina Burana). The purely
instrumental works are tougher nuts to crack but the idiomatic writing bespeaks
musicianship of the highest order. The two atmospheric pieces from the Raga
music series are based structurally on the slowly unfolding raga of North
Indian classical music. The two dialogues take the form of a discussion between
two musicians, including virtuosic cadenza-like episodes for both players
at the climax of each piece.
An appetising entrée to the music of Peter Tahourdin, this CD has
made me want to hear his works for larger forces (the five symphonies in
particular) in modern digital recordings of the calibre of the present release.
At over 70 minutes' duration, the disc is well filled and the performances
are all imaginative and reveal considerable interpretative insight, especially
Jeannie Marsh in the taxing soprano part of "The Starlight Night". Recommended
with enthusiasm as a rare opportunity to sample the individual soundworld
of a composer who has been sadly and unjustly neglected by the musical
establishment in the country of his birth.