The most substantial work
here is the piece by Malcolm Williamson pupil,
Don Kay. This is a modern take on the creation
epic – compare Sibelius's Luonnotar and
Martinu's The Epic of Gilgamesh. In
approach it is no more challenging than say
Britten's Cello Symphony, Bridge's
Oration or the second of Shostakovich's
two cello concertos. Other voices to be heard
although often of passing incident include
Malcolm Arnold and Mussorgsky.
The Kay Concerto follows
a Maori legend. Moinee is the fallen angel
of aboriginal folklore. The legend recounts
the story of Moinee and his wife, their children,
Moinee's fight with devils and his death.
Don Kay's 'Cello Symphony' (note the symphonic
title) is in five movements: 1. Prelude: The
Hurling Down of Moinee; 2. Love Voice
of Moinee; 3. Creating the Land;
4. Interlude - Land of Moinee; 5. Postlude
- Death of Moinee. I do not see this
as another Britten symphony and certainly
not another Oration. It is however
a sincere piece which should be valued in
its own right. The aureate sunrise of the
ending is replete with tamtam strokes and
roaring brass 'waves'. The cyclic subsiding
of the final bars into the same pppp
high violin line as that which opens the work
is a satisfying coup. Cellists will want to
That nomadic composer Peggy
Glanville-Hicks had a lifelong fascination
with the music of Oceania. The Pacifica
of the title of this symphony has nothing
to do with peace and all to do with the cultural
pestle that is the Pacific Ocean. She completed
the Symphony in 1953 in Jamaica - incidentally
the favoured watering place of one of her
teachers, fellow Australian, Arthur Benjamin.
Work on the piece had begun on a Pacific voyage
from New Orleans to Australia. The symphony
has been recorded before but on an old MGM LP.
That has never been reissued on CD. The MGM
orchestra in that case was conducted by fellow
composer, Carlos Surinach; whatever happened
to the masters of that MGM LP series?
The symphony is in three
movements: Allegro energico; Recitativo:
lento tranquillo; Allegro giocoso.
The music is irradiated with Hispanic shade
(lento) close in expression to the
middle movement of the Aranjuez concerto.
The first movement and the far too short (2.24)
Allegro Giocoso sound rather Armenian
in the manner of Alan Hovhaness complete with
crashing tamtam, drums, sacerdotal brass and
The notes are fine giving
usefully detailed background on composers
and artists. The composer information is particularly
valuable with an issue such as this.
The conductor, Richard Mills,
is a composer in his own right. His orchestral
works anthology on ABC became a bestseller
and is available via www.buywell.com amongst
This disc is only available
from the Australian Music Centre.