> Blue Wrens: Piano music from Australia [HC]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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BLUE WRENS : Piano Music from Australia
Geoffrey ALLEN (born 1927)

Three Piano Pieces Op.23 (1993/4)
Piano Sonata No.4 Op.29
Felix WERDER (born 1922)

Monograph (2000)
Dorian LE GALLIENNE (1915 – 1963)

Piano Sonata (1950/1)
Tim DARGAVILLE (born 1962)

Night Song (1997)
Michael BERTRAM (born 1935)

Sonatina (1977)
Five Pieces for Piano (1984)
Trevor Barnard (piano)
Recorded: Melba Hall, University of Melbourne, July and December 1999, September and November 2000
THE DIVINE ART 2.5017 [74:26]

Allen’s Three Pieces Op.23, completed in 1994, are clearly influenced by the music of John Ireland and Francis Poulenc, particularly so in the second piece D’alliance française which pays homage to the French composer and to some of his colleagues. The last movement Blue Wrens at Amberley obliquely refers to John Ireland’s piano piece Amberley Wild Brooks. Allen’s Piano Sonata No.4 Op.29, in one single movement, is quite similar – musically speaking – to the Three Pieces Op.23 and is, according to the composer, "a conscious effort to write in a more concentrated and concise manner".

Felix Werder’s Monograph, written for the present recording, is a rather more serious piece in three compact movements and one of the finest works in this collection.

Le Gallienne’s Piano Sonata was composed in 1950-1951 during the composer’s second stay at the RCM when he studied with the late Gordon Jacob. At that time the composer planned a four-movement sonata. However, he allowed the first three movements to be performed publicly and the fourth movement was apparently never written. The piece nevertheless stands well and is quite satisfying in its present form : a lively Scherzo framed by a sonata-form first movement and a beautifully serene Molto lento.

Tim Dargaville’s Night Song was commissioned in 1997 as incidental music for a play about Ned Kelly. It was originally to be a musical depiction of Kelly’s last night in Old Melbourne Jail. A beautiful atmospheric nocturne.

Both works by Michael Bertram belong to his early output and "are in a style in which [he] no longer writes". The Sonatina (1977), in three short, contrasted movements, was premièred by Keith Humble. The Five Pieces for Piano were composed in 1984 and are dedicated to Trevor Barnard.

Trevor Barnard is an ideal performer in this collection of pieces with which he has a long association. Indeed, most of them were dedicated to and/or first performed by him. No great masterpieces here, maybe, but a very enjoyable cross-selection of accessible and attractive works that repay repeated hearings. Very entertaining and well worth investigating.


Hubert Culot

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