> KAY Tasmania Symphony Glanville-Hicks VAST013-2 [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Australian Music Centre

Tasmania Symphony - The Legend of Moinee - for cello and orchestra (1988) [40.24]
Peggy GLANVILLE-HICKS (1912-1990)

Sinfonia da Pacifica (1952-53)
Christian Wojtowicz (cello)
Tasmanian SO/Richard Mills
rec 3-6 Nov 1992, Government House Ballroom, Hobart


The most substantial work here is the piece by Malcolm Williamson pupil, Don Kay. This is a modern take on the creation epic compare Sibelius's Luonnotar and Martinu's The Epic of Gilgamesh. In approach it is no more challenging than say Britten's Cello Symphony, Bridge's Oration or the second of Shostakovich's two cello concertos. Other voices to be heard although often of passing incident include Malcolm Arnold and Mussorgsky.

The Kay Concerto follows a Maori legend. Moinee is the fallen angel of aboriginal folklore. The legend recounts the story of Moinee and his wife, their children, Moinee's fight with devils and his death. Don Kay's 'Cello Symphony' (note the symphonic title) is in five movements: 1. Prelude: The Hurling Down of Moinee; 2. Love Voice of Moinee; 3. Creating the Land; 4. Interlude - Land of Moinee; 5. Postlude - Death of Moinee. I do not see this as another Britten symphony and certainly not another Oration. It is however a sincere piece which should be valued in its own right. The aureate sunrise of the ending is replete with tamtam strokes and roaring brass 'waves'. The cyclic subsiding of the final bars into the same pppp high violin line as that which opens the work is a satisfying coup. Cellists will want to hear this.

That nomadic composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks had a lifelong fascination with the music of Oceania. The Pacifica of the title of this symphony has nothing to do with peace and all to do with the cultural pestle that is the Pacific Ocean. She completed the Symphony in 1953 in Jamaica - incidentally the favoured watering place of one of her teachers, fellow Australian, Arthur Benjamin. Work on the piece had begun on a Pacific voyage from New Orleans to Australia. The symphony has been recorded before but on an old MGM LP. That has never been reissued on CD. The MGM orchestra in that case was conducted by fellow composer, Carlos Surinach; whatever happened to the masters of that MGM LP series?

The symphony is in three movements: Allegro energico; Recitativo: lento tranquillo; Allegro giocoso. The music is irradiated with Hispanic shade (lento) close in expression to the middle movement of the Aranjuez concerto. The first movement and the far too short (2.24) Allegro Giocoso sound rather Armenian in the manner of Alan Hovhaness complete with crashing tamtam, drums, sacerdotal brass and percussion.

The notes are fine giving usefully detailed background on composers and artists. The composer information is particularly valuable with an issue such as this.

The conductor, Richard Mills, is a composer in his own right. His orchestral works anthology on ABC became a bestseller and is available via www.buywell.com amongst other sources.

This disc is only available from the Australian Music Centre.

Rob Barnett


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