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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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The Making of a Medium Volume 6

PETER SCULTHORPE Night Song (1995) [6.49] From Nourlangie (1995) [4.49]
DAVID DIAMOND Violin Sonata No. 2 (1981) [13.07] Piano Trio (1994) [27.56]
JOHN CORIGLIANO Violin Sonata (1963) [22.47]

 Walter Verdehr (violin) Elsa Ludevig-Verdehr (clarinet), Gary Kirkpatrick (piano), Ralph Votapek (piano - in Corigliano only); recorded Chicago - no dates given
Amazon USA

The two Sculthorpe pieces are the most approachable in this very full disc. Night Song seems tenderly to trace the outline of the beloved in a darkened room while From Nourlangie contrasts Torres Strait dances (uncannily close to Gaelic in style) with the insistence of Indonesian music. Both are worth hearing but Night Song is likely to stay with you for a long time.

The Diamond sonata is in two movements which recall the sonatas by Frankel and Rawsthorne. The approach is noticeably contemporary (for the 1980s). This is rather a dryish work leavened with a little tuneful rhapsodising. The Trio is the longest work on the disc. In its adagio assai we find the disjointedly sung intensely poignant and plaintive heart of the piece. The work is otherwise in Diamond’s later language (a little more yielding than in the sonata) spun together with music irresistibly pleading the lyric soul of the clarinet.

The Corigliano is the oldest work on the disc. It starts defiantly with a call to action and then grippingly develops and displays the music in a carousel of invention which has a decided flavour of Prokofiev (both violin concertos) and Bartók. The second movement (andantino) is serene and is followed by a more harmonically turbulent Bachian lento. The carousel of life (something of Edvard Munch here?) returns in the concluding fairytale allegro (cf Prokofiev violin concerto No. 1). Glittering, cackling, careering - I have no doubt at all that the duo (players accustomed to each other through their annual recitals at Michigan state University) make a complementary but not complacent partnership.

Excellent performances by the Verdehrs with Votapek as a guest artist for the Corigliano. Votapek also recorded the Corigliano with John Corigliano senior. The recording is exemplary - quite an accomplishment given the difficulty in balancing a piano trio. Documentation is very thorough. A shame about the lack of recording dates.

A disc for the collector of American/Australian music and/or the Verdehr series on. The Diamond works will be wanted by all those collecting the works of this fine composer. The two Sculthorpe pieces will prompt me to explore further in that direction. As for the Corigliano I urge you to hear the disc if only for the masterly humanity of the Corigliano and the tenderness of the Sculthorpe Night Piece.

Rob Barnett



Rob Barnett


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