The Australian Voices
see end of review for track listing
The Australian Voices/Gordon Hamilton
rec. Bremen, no date supplied
WARNER CLASSICS 256465486-0 [63:41]
The Australian Voices, under their second director Gordon Hamilton, appear and claim to be the new big thing in vocal music. They are certainly progressive when it comes to the amount of new music which they have commissioned and the high-quality photography and production involved in the creation of this CD. One of the most notable things about the music on this disc is the extended techniques used - such as percussive vocal effects, glissandi and extreme vocal ranges. This creates very unusual sonorities which are interesting and effective. They have also been considered controversial, search YouTube for Tra$h Ma$h for something a little different to listen to. The question is perhaps how seriously they can be considered to be comparable to other classical vocal ensembles. The singers sing using classical technique, the tuning and musicianship are not the same as a popular ensemble, but I think essentially they sit on the fence between classical and popular. This cross-over of genre has been explored before by the likes of G4 - made famous by The X Factor after all studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Katherine Jenkins is another example. The mixing of two genres can be an excellent route to bring mass audiences to less known repertoire, and to prompt everyone involved in both classical and popular music, to explore new ways of listening to and interacting with music of any sort.
Having just categorised this group and recording as inhabiting both classical and popular boundaries, for the purposes of MusicWeb International readers I feel that I should write about it with other classical recordings in mind. My first comment is that all the music is quite similar in timbre, tonality and overall effect. The sound captured is something prized by the liner-notes with reference to The Sendesaal broadcasting studio in Bremen where some of it was recorded. The sound is very warm, round and pure. Then again, all of it is. The singing is very good, with the occasional bump in the juicy legato to make the listener aware that real people are singing. The exceptions are Robert Davidson’s We Apologise and Peter Clark’s Pessoa Chorus I which is subtitled “Homage to Luigi Nono” the Italian avant-garde composer. I actually enjoyed these two works the most. The singers are stretched to their limits which creates a more human feeling about the pieces, despite the opposite probably being the intention. The stark, emotionless soundscape is absorbing and intriguing.
Overall, I praise this disc for ignoring many of the limitations perceived in classical music. I admire the singers’ direction and drive. This isn’t my cup of tea but would appeal to many people for the warmth of most of the pieces and for the fact that it is relatively easy listening. The avant-garde pieces are performed with the most success due to an insight into the humanity of the performers. would liked to have heard a little more of this in the other pieces.
Hannah Parry-Ridout 

Track listing
William BARTON (b. 1981)
Kalkadunga Yurdu [3:04]
Lisa YOUNG (b. 1959)
Other Plans [3:57]
Gordon HAMILTON (b. 1982)
To an Early-flowering Almond [3:39]
Diana (from Moon) [9:19]
We are children [3:36]
Toy Story 3=Awesome! [2:52]
Sergey RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Bogoroditse Devo [2:43]
Franz BIEBL (1906-2001)
Ave Maria [5:23]
Nicholas NG (b. 1979)
Stellar Mansions [3:34]
Macht Hoch die Thur, Die Thor Macht Weit [4:15]
Maria Durch ein Dornwald Ging [3:09]
Franz Xavier GRUBER (1787-1863)
Silent Night [3:11]
Amber EVANS (b. 1993)
To the Evening Star [2:51]
Robert DAVIDSON (b. 1965)
We Apologise [6:44]
Peter CLARK (b. 1991)
Pessoa Chorus I [2:52]

Rather like a good mug of hot chocolate, this recording is warm and smooth but perhaps lacks a little depth. 

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