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Buywell Just Classical

Graeme KOEHNE (b. 1956)
Tivoli Dances (2005) [20:39]
Shaker Dances (1995?) [21:14]
Palm Court Suite (1993?) [24:25]
To His Servant Bach, God Grants a Final Glimpse: The Morning Star (1994) [4:06]
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra/Richard Mills
rec. Federation Concert Hall, TSO rehearsal studio, 8-9 December, 5-6 December, 5-6 August, 2005; 20 April 2004. DDD
ABC CLASSICS 4766502 [70:24] 

Experience Classicsonline

Australian composer Koehne's four Tivoli Dances float with facility and felicity between Bernstein-brash, Glen Miller swing, nostalgic tenderly impressionist atmospherics, woozy salvationist hymnal, pointed delicacy and Milhaud-Satie vaudeville. I especially enjoyed the empty-ballroom Ravelian nostalgia of Forgotten Waltz.

The three Shaker Dances reflect the composer's affectionate respect for the Shakers and their dignity, culture and beliefs. The music is less brash and more nuanced. The strings’ interplay is exciting, serene, sturdy and redolent of Roy Harris in both hoe-down and pastoral idyll modes. There’s also an echo of Vaughan Williams and somewhat of Hovhaness in the Whirling Dance. 

The six dances that make up the Palm Court Suite start with a lovely soulful monologue: Nocturne for cello. This is tender and sincerely affecting and is akin to the second movement of Shaker Dances (Precept and Line). That same affectionate-sentimental quality can also be heard in the long final section. The Valse Noble casts lingering looks at Ravel's La Valse and Barber's Souvenirs. Berceuse has that mysterious prairie-nocturne feel to it as encountered in Copland's Tender Land, Barber's Knoxville and in various Roy Harris works. The … et sentimentale recalls in its pearly piano part the middle movement of Beethoven's Emperor. 

To His Servant Bach takes us to the strong confluent style of Finzi’s Farewell to Arms. The piece was inspired by Spitta's account of Bach who, the day before his death, regained his long-lost sight to see the Morning Star. In the circumstances my Finzi parallel should perhaps have referred to the first of the two Milton Sonnets. 

This disc is, as usual, well annotated and allowing for a little more shrillness in the strings than I have heard in others of the series this is well worth adding to your shelves of Australian composer CDs. 

Lighter music, accomplished, melodic, dance-related, nostalgic, sentimental and sincere. 

Australia's composers offer a richly-stocked conspectus which yet strives to reach out and communicate with listeners. That’s certainly the case with Koehne as you can also hear on his Naxos anthology.

Rob Barnett 


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