Dr Peter Clinch (1930-1995) was born in Geraldton, Western Australia and was in the clarinet
section of the Perth Symphony Orchestra in 1947. He played clarinet
and saxophone with every ABC Symphony Orchestra in Australia either as a member of the orchestra or
as a soloist. He was widely active as conductor and in jazz
performances. Few areas of musical activity in Australia and beyond were left untouched by him. He also composed and
his original compositions include Instruments of the Orchestra,
Introduction and Fugue for 4 Percussion, Music for a Grand Tour,
Variations for Clarinet and Electric Tape, Saxophony for Voice,
Flute, Clarinet and Percussion, Inventions for 7 Players, Clarion
Call for Small Ensemble, Music for Clarinet and Small Ensemble,
and Quartet for Clarinet, Viola, Piano and Percussion.
This collection ranges far and wide among Australian
composers and Brits with Australian connections. Speaking of
which William Lovelock was born in London but moved to Australian in the 1950s and then back in the
1970s. Lovelock’s single movement concerto is full of flighty
and heart-warming romance with plenty of rhythmic vitality among
the shimmering and sultry saxophone songs. It recalls the Glazunov
concerto with dashes of Poulenc and English pastoralism. It’s
a delightful work. Switching to the clarinet Clinch is joined
by Nehama Patkin for the Three Sketches. These are artless
and innocent fun pieces typical of light music although darker
shadows pass across the final Scherzo. Trevor Barnard joins
Clinch for the Saxophone Sonata – all dreamy Gallic romantic
aspiration and none of the instrument’s potential for sleaze.
There’s a ruthlessly active central molto vivo followed
by more gentle oneiromantic rhapsodising – almost Rachmaninov
- with the occasional lively perky and skipping episode. Boxily
recorded the piece is still modestly impressive and unfailingly
Eric Gross was born in Vienna, in 1938 emigrated to
London and then settled in Sydney in 1958 although he has
always been active internationally. His Quintet is a work with
distinct expressionist leanings and quite a contrast with the
inoffensive Sketches. This is a deeply serious piece and its
writing recalls the sometimes caustic string writing of Van
Dieren in the string quartets and the shimmering ambivalence
of the instrumental web in Warlock’s The Curlew. Further
out still we encounter the electronic buzzing and warble of
Introspections – it’s brief.
James Penberthy was born in Melbourne. He studied composition
with Boulanger in Paris and conducting with Barbirolli.
The very compact Saxophone Concerto is gritty and occasionally
very dissonant, explosive and even disorientating. The saxophone
is called on to rhapsodise and chatter, slide and sidle through
haunted Bergian landscapes which erupt in Penderecki-style eruptions.
As with the rest of the programme the acrobatics are superbly
handled by Clinch.
The notes are fulsome and reflect considerable
work by Stephen Sutton.
Given that many of these tracks have been recovered
from LPs the sound is staggeringly clear and free from aural
detritus. All credit to the artistry and technical skill – important
that there is good judgement in balance between the two – of
Andrew Rose and Les Craythorn.
I rather hope that the Diversions label of Divine
Art will do more of these Australian collections although sadly
this has all the signs of a one-off. Nevertheless two disc collections
of Australian symphonies, violin concertos, piano concertos
and overtures would be very welcome.
In retrospect one can see a progressive trajectory
described by the music on this disc: from the accessible conservative
Lovelock through the increasing linguistic challenge of Gross
and onwards to the extremes of Penberthy and then D’Ombrain.