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The Art of Peter Clinch - Classical Saxophone
William LOVELOCK (1899-1986)
Concerto for Saxophone and String Orchestra (1973) [18:43]
Astra Chamber Orchestra/George Logie-Smith
Three Sketches for Clarinet and Piano (1974) [8:08]
Nehama Patkin (piano)
Saxophone Sonata (1974) [17:03]
Trevor Barnard (piano)
Eric GROSS  (b. 1926)
Saxophone Quintet in E flat (1976) [19:57]
Petra String Quartet
Geoffrey D'OMBRAIN (b. 1931) and Peter CLINCH (1930-1995)
Introspections for Saxophone and Tape (1976) [3:44]
James PENBERTHY  (1917-1999)
Saxophone Concerto (1970) [7:57]
West Australian Symphony Orchestra/Verdon Williams
Peter Clinch (saxophone; and clarinet)
rec. W&G Recording Studio, Melbourne, November 1975, from W&G LP BS5667 (Lovelock concerto; sonata); Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, April 1983 (Gross); Melbourne State College (D’Ombrain); ABC Studios from Festival LP SFC80026 (Penberthy). ADD but Three Sketches DDD
DIVERSIONS 24120 [75:36]


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Dr Peter Clinch (1930-1995) was born in Geraldton, Western Australia and was in the clarinet section of the Perth Symphony Orchestra in 1947. He played clarinet and saxophone with every ABC Symphony Orchestra in Australia either as a member of the orchestra or as a soloist. He was widely active as conductor and in jazz performances. Few areas of musical activity in Australia and beyond were left untouched by him. He also composed and his original compositions include Instruments of the Orchestra, Introduction and Fugue for 4 Percussion, Music for a Grand Tour, Variations for Clarinet and Electric Tape, Saxophony for Voice, Flute, Clarinet and Percussion, Inventions for 7 Players, Clarion Call for Small Ensemble, Music for Clarinet and Small Ensemble, and Quartet for Clarinet, Viola, Piano and Percussion.

This collection ranges far and wide among Australian composers and Brits with Australian connections. Speaking of which William Lovelock was born in London but moved to Australian  in the 1950s  and then back in the 1970s. Lovelock’s single movement concerto is full of flighty and heart-warming romance with plenty of rhythmic vitality among the shimmering and sultry saxophone songs. It recalls the Glazunov concerto with dashes of Poulenc and English pastoralism. It’s a delightful work. Switching to the clarinet Clinch is joined by Nehama Patkin for the Three Sketches. These are artless and innocent fun pieces typical of light music although darker shadows pass across the final Scherzo. Trevor Barnard joins Clinch for the Saxophone Sonata – all dreamy Gallic romantic aspiration and none of the instrument’s potential for sleaze. There’s a ruthlessly active central molto vivo followed by more gentle oneiromantic rhapsodising – almost Rachmaninov - with the occasional lively perky and skipping episode. Boxily recorded the piece is still modestly impressive and unfailingly tuneful.

Eric Gross was born in Vienna, in 1938 emigrated to London and then settled in Sydney in 1958 although he has always been active internationally. His Quintet is a work with distinct expressionist leanings and quite a contrast with the inoffensive Sketches.  This is a deeply serious piece and its writing recalls the sometimes caustic string writing of Van Dieren in the string quartets and the shimmering ambivalence of the instrumental web in Warlock’s The Curlew. Further out still we encounter the electronic buzzing and warble of Introspections – it’s brief.

James Penberthy was born in Melbourne. He studied composition with Boulanger in Paris and conducting with Barbirolli. The very compact Saxophone Concerto is gritty and occasionally very dissonant, explosive and even disorientating. The saxophone is called on to rhapsodise and chatter, slide and sidle through haunted Bergian landscapes which erupt in Penderecki-style eruptions. As with the rest of the programme the acrobatics are superbly handled by Clinch.

The notes are fulsome and reflect considerable work by Stephen Sutton.

Given that many of these tracks have been recovered from LPs the sound is staggeringly clear and free from aural detritus. All credit to the artistry and technical skill – important that there is good judgement in balance between the two – of Andrew Rose and Les Craythorn. 

I rather hope that the Diversions label of Divine Art will do more of these Australian collections although sadly this has all the signs of a one-off. Nevertheless two disc collections of Australian symphonies, violin concertos, piano concertos and overtures would be very welcome. 

In retrospect one can see a progressive trajectory described by the music on this disc: from the accessible conservative Lovelock through the increasing linguistic challenge of Gross and onwards to the extremes of Penberthy and then D’Ombrain.

Rob Barnett


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