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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]
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra/Ola Rudner
rec. Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, October 2003 and June 2004 and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Studio October 2003
ABC CLASSICS 4768041 [59:05]



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.
 
Jonathan Woolf 

 


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