Sculthorpe is the
senior figure in the Australian Composer Series and this
marks the tenth and last volume I’ve reviewed. They have all
impressed me. The level of booklet information has been consistently
thoughtful – the mixture of biographical and textual detail
has been just right. And the playing of the Tasmanian Symphony
Orchestra, here under Richard Mills once again, has been irreproachable.
You can be assured that these are no sight-reading sessions
– a lot of time and effort went into these recordings and the
results reflect well on all concerned.
was written in 1988. Its quiet and meditative writing is immediately
arresting. Suggestions of indigenous melody is here and with
Sculthorpe taking the soloist very high we hear – or think we
hear – the sound of birdsong. Predominately lyric Sculthorpe
is meticulous in keeping his orchestration clear – the lines
are never occluded or clogged. And the gently tumbling motifs,
whilst more orthodox, also add to the sense of variety and vibrancy
– note also what sounds like a didgeridoo imitation at about
from Sculthorpe’s Fourteenth String Quartet and was arranged
for chamber orchestra in 2000. It’s cast in four movements -
Prelude, In the Valley, From High Hills and
At Quamby Bluff. There are certainly graver intimations
– especially the ominous horn writing in the second movement
- but there are also warm ones too; try the liquid flute melody
in From High Hills. In the final movement we hear not
only the horns’ unease but a hymnal passage and the resolution
that the winds in general - and the flutes in particular - bring.
Nourlangie is a work that resonates with the sense of
space and chorale beauty that Sculthorpe so often brings. It
was dedicated to John Williams and is here most adeptly played
by Karin Schaupp. Dance patterns are at its heart and a light,
breezy freedom brings with it more athletic flamenco-inspired
athleticism and a renewal of the avian cries that populated
Music for Bali
is by a long way the earliest work, dating from 1968. It
took on a deeper resonance after the 2002 terrorist bombings.
Brief, slow and evocative it derives from a larger-scale work
for wind quintet and percussion called Tabuh Tabuhan.
The only glitch
at all concerns too short a gap between the first two pieces
but other than that, as noted in my first paragraph, this is
an excellently realised disc and part of a model series.