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Water Settings: Australian Music for Percussion Duo
Daryl PRATT

Modern Dance (2002) [5:43]
Michael SMETANIN (b.1958)
Finger Funk (2004) [8:06]
Andrew FORD (b.1957)

The Crantock Gulls (2003) [7:07]
Daryl PRATT

A Room in the House (2004) [9:22]
Water Settings (2005) [20:09]
Tangos Nuevos II (2002) [5:00]
Peter SCULTHORPE (b.1929) (arranged by Daryl PRATT)

Djilile (1989) [6:12]
Match Percussion: Daryl Pratt, Alison Eddington
rec. April-May 2005, Recital Room East, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney.
TALL POPPIES TP183 [62:40]

The duo Match was formed in 2001. Both its members are prominent performers on the Australian music scene (and beyond); both also teach at the Sydney Conservatorium. Daryl Pratt was born and raised in California, moving to Australia in 1985; a native Australian, Eddington was born in Perth. This is Match’s first CD, though both its members have recorded pretty extensively in other contexts. Here they play a programme of Australian pieces – or, at any rate, of pieces by composers based in Australia.

Much of the material is centred on the use of the vibraphone (played by Pratt) and the marimba (played by Eddington).

Two of the compositions by Pratt, Modern Dance and Tangos Nuevos II are taken from a four-part Dance Suite. Modern Dance makes extensive use of jazz phrasing and rhythms; chords on the vibraphone are counterpoised by longer melodic lines and there are improvised passages. It is relevant to remember that Pratt was also a founding member of the jazz ensemble Sonic Fiction. Flamenco-like rhythms produce some very pleasant effects in Tangos Nuevos II, lines for vibraphone and marimba subtly interwoven in a fairly traditional fashion, reminiscent at times of Gary Burton. More experimental is A Room in the House, which was written for the Percussion Arts Society International Convention of 2005 and is for four hands at a single vibraphone – a vibraphone played with various unorthodox ‘mallets’. A very distinctive sound-world results – metallic whispers, a ringing of bells, sustained notes, odd rattlings and sudden swoops of pitch; at times effect seems to take precedence over musical cause, but there is much that is strangely beautiful. The most substantial of Daryl Pratt’s compositions is the one that gives the CD its title. Water Settings is in three movements, and takes the form of a musical response to the landscapes of Australia’s Eastern coast. The first movement, ‘Tide Pool’, uses gongs, bells, crotales and cymbals alongside the vibraphone and evokes the interaction of light and water and the scurrying, swirling life of the tide pool. In the central movement, ‘Waves’, patterns of ostinati ‘represent’ the rhythms of the waves and in the final section, ‘Seven Mile Beach’, a relatively quiet walk along the beach, as it were, disappears beneath ever more crashing and tumultuous wave rhythms. The whole is a striking (the pun can’t be avoided) sequence, which both makes musical sense and is also programmatic in an unusual and interesting way.

Peter Sculthorpe’s Djilile (the title apparently means "whistling duck on a billabong") was originally composed for piano, was then adapted for a percussion quartet and has now been arranged by Daryl Pratt for - mainly - vibraphone and marimba. Its melodic basis is adapted from an aboriginal melody collected in the 1950s. This is a memorable, subtle piece, suggestive and understated.

Andrew Ford - who was born in Liverpool and studied with Edward Cowie and John Buller before moving to Australia in 1983 – is represented by The Crantock Gulls, Crantock being in Cornwall. The gulls are noisy, the sea is rough, the drumming drives hard.

Michael Smetanin’s Finger Funk might win a prize for the best title on the CD; it is also one of the best compositions. It is written for a single five-octave marimba, played by two performers – who use only their fingers occasionally supplemented by rubber pads attached to the thumbs. The resulting sounds are surprisingly varied in dynamics, their patterning by turns graceful and (yes) funky. An intriguing and enjoyable performance.

Though I haven’t yet been able to listen to the whole CD at a single sitting without my attention wandering, I have had a good deal of pleasure from dipping into it to listen again to particular pieces. The virtuoso skills of Pratt and Eddington are obvious – not because they flaunt them, but because they can present stylistically various and complex music convincingly and persuasively.
Glyn Pursglove


See also reviews by Jonathan Woolf and Robert Hugill

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