Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Piano Concerto
Symphony 4.2
(1993 rev 1998)
Choral Symphony
Michael Kieran Harvey (piano)
Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir
Sydney SO/Edo de Waart
ABC CLASSICS 456 698-2 [71.32]

I was alerted to Vine's existence by a favourable review in Fanfare. The disc so warmly welcomed there was a coupling of Vine's Microsymphony (1986), with his symphonies 2 and 3 (1988 and 1990). The works were played by the Sydney Symphony conducted by the late Stuart Challender. That disc is still well worth tracking down and my guess is that after hearing the present disc this is exactly what you will want to do. It is on ABC 8.77000 5. Much of his chamber music (there are three string quartets) is available on a pair of Tall Poppies CDs. These also include Michael Kieran Harvey playing the two piano sonatas.

Vine was born in Perth. He more than flirted with electronics and was a founding member of 'Felderman' which premiered more than seventy Australian works with a sprinkling of new music from further afield. Like many another avant-garde practitioner Vine has felt the magnetic pull of the symphony essaying the Microsymphony in the late 1980s in response to a Sydney Youth Orchestra commission. He is specially associated with a sequence of ballets: Poppy (1978), Legend (1988), Tempest (1991) and Mythologia (2000).

The Piano Concerto is one of three works written for Harvey, the other two being Vine's two piano sonatas. The Concerto is gloriously approachable without selling out to kitsch. Think in terms of Nyman's Piano Concerto but with much more variety - more like a delta into which flows voices ranging from Ravel's G major to Rachmaninov No. 4 (yes, I could imagine Michelangeli playing this work), from early Shchedrin to Arthur Bliss (but without the congestion which afflicts the Bliss Piano Concerto). Textures are clear as glass; the tunes are stunning and the notes flow and skitter in diamantine shoals. Shostakovich's second piano concerto is, presumably, another influence. The brass chorale which rings out over the closing pages like a benison brings to an end an absolutely stonking performance.

Symphony 4.2 is a less obvious work. By the way the reference to 4.2 does not make a link with Don Gillis's Symphony No 5½. It reflects (as it might with a new software release) that the Symphony was revised and that this is version 4.2 i.e. the first revision. The original version must be 4.1. The impression left by the work is an episodic one proceeding by way of parataxis. The episodes vary from the dark subways of William Schuman's string anthems to generously lyrical songs as in the marine depths also heard in the concerto. The lyrical returns at the end with a sweetly singing solo violin wresting beauty from foreboding. The Choral Symphony is even better blending processional (as, for example, in the Paul Paray Mass) with some extremely impressive apocalyptic storms. Dynamic bongo rushes and Orffian choruses. Emphatically punched out massed strings and a half-Gallic spirituality touching on Fauré and Rutter leave the enduring impression of a paregoric for tragedy.

A stimulating disc which, once heard, is liable to have you rooting through the lists to find the Challender Vine CD.

Rob Barnett


Available in the UK from Seaford Music.
phone +44 (0) 1323 732553
fax +44 (0) 1323 417455
24 Pevensey Road
East Sussex BN21 3HP
United Kingdom


Prices from ABC Classics
Orders can be placed by E-MAIL at
Steven Godbee
ABC Classics
ph + 61 2 9950 3969
fax + 61 2 9950 3886

An enquiry to Steven will I am sure give you all the information you will need about ordering.

(Cost of a local call from anywhere in Australia) 1300 360 111
ORDER BY FAX (in Australia)
1300 360 150 Fax completed order form anytime night or day.
Payment by credit card only


Send your order to:

The ABC Shop - QVB,
GPO Box 9994,
NSW 2001


Order through the ABC Shop's Online service at:
OVERSEAS ORDERS (i.e. from outside Australia)
Phone: +61 3 9626 1167
Fax: +61 3 9602 5221
Overseas orders incur economy airmail charges.
Payment is by credit card only.
Visa - Bankcard - Mastercard - Diners - Amex

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit