This disc comprises works by composers who have now
either established themselves in Australia or in the case of Gerard
Brophy were born there. They are of a younger generation than the more
well known Peter Sculthorpe (b.1929) Ross Edwards (b.1943) or Richard
Meale (b.1932), whereas the older composers are often more inspired
by the pioneering nature of Australian culture, history and of the landscape,
these four men are more international in inspiration, training and final
effect. In fact the CD case tells us that the composers ‘have strong
musical connections with Europe’.
Roger Smalley was born near Manchester and at
one point studied privately with Stockhausen. He went to live and work
in Australia in 1974. He was in the centre of the British avant-garde
in the early 70s, as ‘Pulses’ on NMC DO17M, composed in 1969, testifies.
Diptych is a powerful work, magnificently orchestrated and marks out
a more listener-friendly language than the earlier work. It is nevertheless
a tough but dramatic piece. It was inspired by a huge painting by the
British born Brian Blanchflower who lives in Perth where an exhibition
of his work took place in 1990.
The Violin Concerto by Bozidar Kos is a virtuoso
work magnificently brought to life by Dene Olding who is co-Concertmaster
of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and who premiered the work. Kos was
born in Slovenia and whilst living in Europe was a jazz musician. He
moved to Australia in 1978. His atonal concerto is a busy and incredibly
tense work of over twenty minutes. Although it has moments of repose
as for example at c.9.30’, it is only in the last three minutes, after
a brief Cadenza, that the tension dissipates into a more reflective
These two works are the most substantial on the CD
and are impressive pieces. I’m sorry to say that I cannot be so enthusiastic
about the others.
‘Dedica’ by Riccardo Formosa has a long and
highly elaborate oboe part at its centre, brilliantly negotiated by
Patrick Thomas. It is, I feel, full of gesture and too many notes, signifying
nothing - at least it only lasts eight minutes. Formosa was born in
Rome but since 1974 is one of Australia’s leading arrangers and record
Gerard Brophy is Australian by birth and studied
in Germany with Mauricio Kagel. His work is exotically scored but at
just over eleven minutes seems too long for its material. It also features
an oboe solo haloed by harp and percussion. It does however have the
advocacy of that fine and highly discerning conductor Myer Fredman,
and has a highly atmospheric opening, rather akin to desert heat and
The performances throughout are consistently excellent.
The recording quality is vivid and immediate despite the fact that these
tapes were mostly recorded live.