Andrew SCHULTZ (b. 1960)
Endling op. 72 (2007) [14:58]
Violin Concerto op. 55 (1966) [33:58]
Once upon a time ... (2006) [18:55]
Jennifer Pike (violin)
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra/Richard Mills
rec. 2-5 Dec 2008, Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania. DDD
ABC CLASSICS 476 4519 [67:51]
I lose count of how many volumes have been issued in ABC's Australian Composer series made in regal partnership with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. The number is not small. There have been at least three boxed sets for a start and there is no sign of the flow stemming.
Andrew Schultz who already has two chamber music CDs on the superbly interesting Tall Poppies label is the latest to be feted in this way. Schultz's productive energies have primarily been taken up with three major operas: Black River 1998, Going into Shadows 2000 and The Children's Bach 2007. Other large-scale non-theatre works are the cantata Journey to Horseshoe Bend (2003) and The Song of Songs (2004), the latter a reworking of the biblical text by Barry Hill.
Andrew Schultz was born in Adelaide and studied with Brumby, Crumb, Lumsdaine and Berio. He attended the universities of Queensland, Pennsylvania and Queen's College London.
These three orchestral works are comparatively recent. Endling means the last surviving individual of a species or plant. Schultz's piece specifies two horns, timps and strings. It's a tonal piece, tender and with a tendency to sorrow and introspection. The music is elegiac with fine pastels touched in by the horns and fragile yet at times intense strings. A parallel might be Finzi but more astringent and strange yet not dissonant.
Jennifer Pike has recorded the Rozsa Violin Concerto for Chandos as well as some shorter pieces to go with the Cello Concerto. The Schulz Violin Concerto was commissioned by the Hunter Orchestra in Newcastle, Australia but they went into liquidation leaving the score and parts produced and the commission fee paid. It lay unperformed until this recording when, working with Ms Pike, it was revised. The result is in two movements. Like Endling the first movement proceeds at an evolutionary petal-unfolding gait with the violin singing likewise. The music effervesces slowly and the Silvestrov-like carillon bubbling is unhurried. The melody is elegiac and follows the topography of pastoral 1940s Copland. The violin sings that sky-aspiring melody uninhibitedly amid a melos increasingly similar to Arvo Pärt's Cantus. The violin gently continues to soar. The second movement is animated with iterations of bell fanfares from the brass and Hovhaness-like groans before the violin enters with a fast pulse and slippery virtuosity locked into the harmonies of the first movement. This music sounds as if it has evolved from The Lark Ascending until it escapes into display. This is diverting but one cannot help feeling that Schulz's magnetic pull is towards the pensive. So it proves with a final page that glows steadily and in which the solo and orchestral strings whisper into silence.
Like the Violin Concerto Once Upon a Time ... was written in Banff, Canada during one of four residencies he has spent there. Northern climes suit Schulz's temperament. This work is heard in its double woodwind version - the original is for triple woodwind. The music is full of colourful imagination evoking unspecified characters and episodes from folk tales and the imagination of childhood. The scenes are as rich as the colourful orchestration. Gawky grotesques, lissom princesses, black horrors and verdant secret valleys float into view. These are peopled through orchestral effects which are rather different from the character of the writing in the first two works on this disc. The music is tonal, open textured, miraculously well orchestrated and rife with solos and chamber dialogue. Effects are shimmeringly vivid and full of awe (12:10). This can be thought of as a modern equivalent of Liadov or Stravinsky but without the Slav element. Impressions of other composers are transient - Sibelius, Glass, Copland - but certainly there. I mention them only to help you find your bearings a little.
The notes in English only are definitive and are by the composer of this often intimately confiding music. .
Rob Barnett
Schulz's magnetic pull is towards the pensive, steadily glowing and leaning towards the whisper.