All posts by Gordon Kerry

Adès: Polaris – Voyage for Orchestra. Stanhope: Piccolo Concerto

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Markus Stenz, Benjamin Northey, conductors. Andrew Macleod, piccolo
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 0862
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

Once upon a time British music was seen by an aspiring Australian avant-garde as incorrigibly conservative. A semi-mythical figure, the English organist-composer, minted by one or other Oxbridge college, would descend on Australia and, taking up an academic or other institutional position, act as a reactionary brake on the development of local modernism. We still… continue reading »


Agony and Ecstasy: Australian Music from the Time of Arthur Boyd

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, South Australian Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, various conductors
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1210
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

What with the perils of internet piracy, the impending death of classical music and the end of the civilisation as we know it, the recording business faces one or two challenges. These are met with various strategies, ranging from the Complete Symphonies/String Quartets of canonical composer N to recycling bleeding chunks for ‘best of’ CDs,… continue reading »


Australian Portrait. Music by Hindson, Batterham, Broadstock, Boyd, Smetanin, Zadro

HD Duo. Michael Duke, saxophones; David Howie, piano
Classical, New Music
Cala CACD77013
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77013.html
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

It was, if memory serves, the late John Dankworth who described the soprano saxophone as ‘an ill woodwind that nobody blows any good’. That’s not, of course, true in the case of Dankworth himself, nor in that of Michael Duke. Duke’s Australian Portrait CD, made as half of the estimable HD Duo with pianist David… continue reading »


Bach. Piano transcriptions by Reger, Vaughan Williams, Busoni, Goossens, Grainger, Saint-Saëns, Martucci and others.

Antony Gray
Classical, Early Music, New Music
ABC Classics 4765171 (3 CDs)
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

When period-instrument performances of Baroque music became mainstream in the 1970s, it must have seemed like a breath of fresh air after the sort of outings in which, as Debussy once put it, Bach seems to ‘bear the weight of many subsequent centuries’. Faster tempos, stylish ornamentation and smaller ensembles made for a clearer appreciation… continue reading »


Chiaroscuro. Modern works for soprano and piano

Jane Sheldon, soprano; Zubin Kanga, piano
Classical, New Music
Phosphor records PR0003
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

About sixty years ago Theodor W Adorno lamented that ‘modern music is growing old’. As a theorist of an idiosyncratic Marxist bent, Adorno, in his 1949 Philosophie der neuen Musik, had constructed a kind of musical Manichaeism with Schoenberg representing the ‘light’ half of the equation, while Stravinsky was the great heresiarch who had betrayed… continue reading »


Heard This and Thought of You. Music by Ortiz, Banister, Keller, Locke, Barbeler, Bach, Beamish, Palestrina, Seattle

James Crabb, classical accordion; Genevieve Lacey, recorders
Classical, Early Music, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1874
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

There isn’t, you’ll be surprised to hear, a vast repertoire for recorder(s) and accordion, though the ever-resourceful Genevieve Lacey and James Crabb haven’t let this stand in their way. Their newly-released Heard this and thought of you is, as you might expect from two such excellent performers, never less than charming, displaying great musicianship, virtuosity… continue reading »


Intimate Voices: Sibelius String Quartets

Flinders Quartet
Classical
ABC 481 1982
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“The Flinders Quartet offers beautiful readings of Sibelius’ masterful D minor quartet and the early breakthrough work in A minor.” It has been hard to get any traction but every so often I throw out on social media that Victoria should secede. I mean, the state’s economy is doing well, we have a variety of… continue reading »


Liza Lim: Orchestral Works

The Compass (2006): Christoph Poppen, conductor, Carin Levine, flutes, William Barton, didgeridoo, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. Pearl, Ochre, Hair String (2009–10): Lothar Zagrosek, conductor, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. The Guest (2010); Rupert Huber, conductor, Jeremias Schwarzer, recorders, SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden.
Classical, New Music
hat[now]ART 185, (2013)
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

Pauline Hanson, in her most recent unsuccessful run for office, took to Facebook before Australia Day to ‘urge everyone to make a stand and celebrate our superior western culture and display the values of mateship and courage when you can as a symbol for unity on our national holiday’, preferably ‘at the beach, a large… continue reading »


One, Two, Three. Works by Johnson, Kirsten, Dean, Rigler, Fonville and Cage

Tim Munro, voice and flute
Classical, New Music
https://parlourtapes.bandcamp.com/album/one-two-three Listen online or purchase the cassette.
http://www.timothymunro.com/#about
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

In a video introduction to his new album, Tim Munro takes an amusing pot shot at glamour-puss flautists, insisting that this is nothing like the glossily produced discs featuring Reicha and other bêtes-noires of the flute repertoire. Naturally, I can’t think whom he means. Munro, from Brisbane, but now resident in the US where is… continue reading »


Piano Inside Out. Works by Gyger, Vines, Rojas, Young, Whale, Page and Moles

Zubin Kanga, piano
Classical, Experimental Music, New Music
MOVE Records MD 3391
www.move.com.au
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2015

An American composer of my acquaintance is great fan of preparing, or as he prefers to say, ‘fortifying’ the piano. He once remarked to me that he was surprised that composers had taken such a long time to appreciate many ways in which the instrument’s palette can be extended by plucking and stroking the strings,… continue reading »


Sergei Prokofiev. Romeo and Juliet

Sydney Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy
Classical
Sydney Symphony Live SSO201205
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

When the Australian Youth Orchestra made its 2001 European tour, I tagged along as assistant tour manager, a role that involved some wrangling and pastoral care, and a great deal of heavy lifting. After concerts in the Netherlands and France, conducted by Mikko Franck, we fetched up in Berlin for rehearsals of a new program… continue reading »


Seven Stations. Love poems for Sydney

Alison Morgan and Anna Fraser, sopranos; Josh Hill, percussion; Joe Manton, bass; Stefan Duwe, viola; Ezmi Pepper, cello
Classical, New Music
Hospital Hill HHCD12130741
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

When I first saw the title of this new song-cycle I wondered whether it might not be a cut down version of the Good Friday ritual with its 14 Stations of the Cross. But no. Billed as ‘love poems for Sydney’, Seven Stations is thoroughly and (mostly) cheerfully profane, using some of the railway stations… continue reading »


The Music of Peter Sculthorpe

John Peterson
Books, Musicology
Sydney: Wildbird Music, 2014, 220 pages
ISBN 978-0-9875145-0-9 (pbk)
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

In August this year, the response to news that Peter Sculthorpe had died was swift and heartfelt. The federal Minister for the Arts and the Prime Minister acknowledged the passing of a ‘musical giant’, sentiments echoed by the Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister. Obituaries and reminiscences quickly appeared in both mainstream and social media from… continue reading »


The Stone People. Solo piano works by John Luther Adams, Martin Bresnick, Julia Wolfe, Missy Mazzoli, Kate Moore

Lisa Moore, piano and voice
Classical, New Music
Canteloupe Music CA21115
www.cantaloupemusic.com
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

The Australian pianist Lisa Moore is on fine form presenting an always-fascinating group of new works. Some time back in the 1990s I went along to a Seymour Group concert in Sydney that featured a work by ‘the other John Adams’. Australia had had numerous performances of Short Ride in a Fast Machine and other… continue reading »


Unfold. Works by Banks, Butterley, Meale, Werder

Kreutzer Quartet
Classical, New Music
Move Records MD 3371
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

In our darker and more cynical moments, composers sometimes remark that getting a World Premiere is relatively easy, but that one should leave the bubbly on ice until the second performance, the getting of which is the real achievement. And I’m not just talking about nasty, modern, squeaky-door, avant-gardey kinda stuff; plenty of non-horsescaring works,… continue reading »


About Gordon Kerry

Gordon Kerry is a composer and author.


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