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OF THE MONTH
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OF THE MONTH
Brenton BROADSTOCK (b.1952)
Festive Overture (1981) [11:25]
Timeless (2002) [10:50]
The Mountain (1983) [10:45]
Federation Square: Rooms of Wonder [11:19]
Symphony No.4 Born from Good Angel’s Tears (1995) [14:46]
Symphony Orchestra/Ola Rudner
rec. Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, October 2003 and June 2004 and Tasmanian
Symphony Orchestra, Studio October 2003
This is another in the excellent and extensive Australian
Composers Series from ABC. Broadstock has an interesting
biography. He was brought up in the Salvation Army and had experience
of brass bands when young – as well as a peripatetic “institutionalised” youth.
Incidentally those addicted to Strine might like to know according
to the booklet notes that down under the Salvation Army is known
as the “Salvos”. Initially a trombonist Broadstock gravitated
to bass guitar in a rock band. Later he studied composition in
America and in Sydney with Sculthorpe.
This disc spans a good two decades’s worth of his work. We open with the rather
Waltonian 1981 Festive Overture – all dynamic percussion, swirling strings
and evincing a real insider’s knowledge of the brass section. Timeless is
dedicated to his daughter and was composed in 2002. Written for string orchestra
it ranges avidly from reflective stillness to almost Straussian effulgence. The
final section brings the beauty of melancholy, one refined through experience
to something approaching reconciliation. This is a lovely work – touching and
unpretentious but full of life, colour and with a kind of narrative-emotive core
running through it.
The Mountain is from an earlier period and is for
chamber forces. It’s dedicated to his erstwhile teacher,
Sculthorpe. The brass calls and pitch wobbles lend it a tense
air but one senses a genetic link to Sibelius. The high winds
and brass are chilly but the drive from about 5:00 is monumental.
Later we have some translucent colours and textures, outer-spacey,
as our gaze seems to rise from the peak to far beyond. In
terms of sonority and direction this is maybe a lesser work
than Timeless but its ambition and control are evident
from the start.
Federation Square: Rooms of Wonder is more of an
occasional piece, having been written for the opening of
a city square – hence the title. “Rooms of Wonder”, the
subtitle, alerts us to the quiet rapture of discovery.
With its moments of enraptured stasis and brusquely angular
writing this peace is plastic, almost sculptural. It has
the effect of suggesting a head-turning excitement at the
newness of the architecture. The pitch bending and motoric
writing hint at the raw newness and the tenderness and
aerial dancing sections convey the excitement of the Square.
Finally there’s the Fourth Symphony subtitled Born from Good Angel’s Tears. It’s
a compact work not appreciably longer than Federation Square. This was
written in 1995. Slowly evolving lines have once more a complement of glissandi
and pitch “switching.” And once more there’s a Sibelian sense of organic growth
and development through these means are very different. There’s Golden Mean climax – strong
and involving – and a warmly optimistic conclusion.
First class performances and values attend this issue – in every way a splendid
platform for Broadstock and his exciting music.
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