All posts by Gwen Bennett

800 Million Heartbeats. Music by Stuart Greenbaum

NZ Trio
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 0504
www.abcclassics.com
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

For an Australian with a number of New Zealander relatives, this Trans-Tasman musical connection was of particular interest. The CD presents music that is partly the result of a collaboration between the Australian Music Centre, its New Zealand equivalent SOUNZ, and the residency they arranged for Australian composer Stuart Greenbaum with the Auckland-based NZ Trio…. continue reading »


Addicted to Bass. Seven Premiere Australian works for Bass Recorder

Alicia Crossley, with Joshua Hill, Anna Fraser, Vatche Jambazian, Victoria Jacono, Ben Carey
Classical, New Music
Self-release
www.aliciacrossley.com.au www.soundcloud.com.au/alicia-crossley
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

Ken Tribe used to speak of the “bootstraps principle”. He was a member of the first Music Board of the Australia Council in the early 1970s when it was developing policies for performance grants; his notion was that aspiring musicians should prove, to some extent, that they had the ability to realise a project before… continue reading »


Awakening: Four Lives in Art

Eileen Chanin, Steven Miller
Biography, Books
Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2015. 229pp. Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 74305 365 2
www.wakefieldpress.com.au
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

Four inspiring women, though not exactly household names today, are given some much-deserved attention in this engrossing publication. Dora Ohlfsen, Louise Dyer, Clarice Zander and Mary Cecil Allen, born in Australia in the second half of the nineteenth century, all achieved prominence in areas that were often regarded as the exclusive province of males. These… continue reading »


Beyond Black and White – My Life in Music

Roger Woodward
Biography, Books
Sydney: HarperCollinsPublishers Australia Pty Limited, 2014. 609pp ABC Books under licence.
ISBN: 978 0 7333 2303
www.harpercollins.com.au
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2015

In contrast with the austere black and white dust jacket, the first thing one sees when opening this book is the vividly coloured endpaper, painted by the nine year old author; such talent would surely lead to a future as a visual artist. Soon it becomes clear, however, that he was headed for a career… continue reading »


Deep blue and dirty. Works by Andrew Schultz

Southern Cross Soloists
Classical, New Music
Wirripang Wirr 065
www.australiancomposers.com.au
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

Note: Due to some editorial mismanagement, we have received two reviews of this disc, the other by Elizabeth Silsbury. We have decided that it would be interesting to publish both. The evocative title – Deep blue and dirty – comes from a piece for bassoon and piano, one of six chamber works on this CD… continue reading »


Grainger the Modernist

Suzanne Robinson, Kay Dreyfus, editors
Books, Musicology
Farnham, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2015 270pp
ISBN 9781472420220 (hardback) ISBN 9781472420237 (ebook- PDF) ISBN 9781472420244 (ebook-PUB)
www.ashgate.com
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

Should Percy Grainger be regarded as a modernist? Or should he be dismissed, as he has been in the past, as an inconsequential arranger of British folksong? Even a cursory scan of Grainger’s life reveals that he was an innovator in many diverse ways: his individually created language eg ‘over-soul’(= genius), his outré towelling clothing,… continue reading »


I Was Flying. Music by Sally Whitwell

Sally Whitwell, Alexandra Oomens, VOX, Acacia Quartet, Sally Walker, Kirsten Williams
Choral Music, Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1704
www.abcclassics.com
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Many years ago, at a recital given by a well-known singer, I was surprised to see an accompanist I had never heard of. Young, with funky clothes and spiky hair, this was my first encounter with Sally Whitwell. I was impressed, not with the apparel (I liked that too) but with her obvious pianistic abilities…. continue reading »


Lyle Chan String Quartet. An AIDS Activist’s Memoir in Music

Acacia Quartet
Classical, New Music
2 CDs, Vexations 840 1401
www.vexations840.com
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

Lyle Chan was an activist at height of the AIDS catastrophe and his musical responses to events at that time are the basis of this work. Whilst not being program music in the usual sense, the background described in the accompanying booklet provides insights and a deeper understanding. His story is dramatic, of brave men… continue reading »


Percy Grainger – Piano Works

Leslie Howard, with David Stanhope and Geoffrey Parsons
Classical
ABC Classics 481 1601 (5 CDs)
www.abcclassics.com
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2015

When I was a teenager, the wisdom of my elders decreed that Percy Grainger be dismissed as a lightweight and not worth the time of day – so were they being influenced by rumours of his eccentricities? or maybe they never had the opportunity to hear more of his music than the over-exposed Country Gardens… continue reading »


Sideband. Music by Coelho, Gill, Kos, McNamara and Williams

Anthony Clarke, Alicia Crossley, Mark Donnelly, Jane Duncan, Claire Edwardes, Charlotte Fetherston, Anna Fraser, Brad Gill, Lanneke Jones, Susannah Lawergren, Jihyeon Lim, Winnie Lin, Roland Peelman, Julia Ryder, Nicole Thomson, Kerry Yong.
Classical, New Music
Wirripang Wirr 056
www.australiancomposers.com.au
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

Sideband, a composer-performer collective initiated by a small group of energetic and enterprising Sydney-based composers – Brad Gill, Tristan Coelho and Peter McNamara – presents brilliant performances of music for voices, solo instruments and chamber ensembles. Sideband is a composer-performer collective initiated by a small group of energetic and enterprising composers – Brad Gill, Tristan… continue reading »


Songs from the Paddock to the Trenches. Music by Martin Wesley-Smith, lyrics by Peter Wesley-Smith

The Song Company directed by Roland Peelman
A cappella, Classical, New Music
2 CDs, self-release by The Song Company. Purchase copies from the web address below.
www.songcompany.com.au
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

This 2xCD set celebrates the 70th birthday of Martin and Peter Wesley-Smith, their creative partnership and the long-term collaboration between them and The Song Company. The earliest piece was written in 1965 and the latest in 2011- roughly half a century of innovative works from that special relationship of twin brothers, one a composer and… continue reading »


The Flood. Music by Michael Hannan, lyrics by Janis Balodis

Isabella A Cappella, The Flood Band
A cappella, Contemporary, Musical Theatre, Popular, Soundscape
Wirripang Wirr 073
www.australiancomposers.com.au
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

Soundscapes and song, heartbreak, hope and humour accompany an aural promenade through the streets of Lismore. The town of Lismore lies in a flood-prone area of the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. Those floods are illustrated here in a recorded version of a large-scale music theatre work which took place in 2004 –… continue reading »


The Gershwin Collection

Simon Tedeschi, with James Morrison, Sarah McKenzie, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Benjamin Northey
Arrangements, Classical, Film Music, Musical Theatre, Popular
2 CDs - ABC Classics 481 1872
www.abcclassics.com
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Gershwin Take Three? Two previously released CDs of the music of George Gershwin – the top-selling Gershwin and Me (2012) and Gershwin Take Two (2013) are here combined in a double album featuring pianist Simon Tedeschi, who not only seems to have Gershwin’s virtuosic abilities but also a somewhat physical resemblance. Gershwin was very popular… continue reading »


Waves I. Music by Elliott Gyger and Andrew Ford

Halcyon: Alison Morgan and Jenny Duck-Chong
Classical, New Music
Self-release
www.halcyon.org.au
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

Anyone who has been to a Halcyon concert will have experienced the exquisite performances and inspired program choices of its two directors – Alison Morgan and Jenny Duck-Chong. Alison’s ethereal soprano and Jenny’s lustrous mezzo-soprano continue to delight, in combination with a number of musician colleagues chosen according to the demands of the repertoire. For… continue reading »


The Remarkable Mr Morrison. The Virtuosity and Versatility of Australia’s Master Musician

Mervyn E. Collins
Biography, Books
Melbourne: Melbourne Books, 2014, 317pp.
ISBN 9781922129444 (pbk)
www.melbournebooks.com.au
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

Jazzman James Morrison was born with exceptional gifts which became evident from early childhood when he tried playing all the instruments his older brother brought home from school. He started playing in bands at the age of eight, first at Mona Vale Primary School on Sydney’s northern beaches and later in a group at the… continue reading »


About Gwen Bennett

Gwen Bennett is the author of 'More Than Music', a biography of Kenneth Tribe AC (2011). During two decades in classical music radio she had varying roles as producer, presenter, program planner and manager of ABC Classic FM. She sat on boards of 2MBS FM, the Australian Music Centre, Roger Woodward’s Sydney Spring Festival, Music Studies at the University of Sydney and chaired judging panels for APRA/AMC Awards and Lowin Prizes.

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