Music

History Goes Everywhere

The Australysis Electroband. Roger Dean, leader, piano, computer; Sandy Evans, saxophones; Greg White, computer; with Hazel Smith, text, performer, the Blue Bus
Electronic Music, Improvisation, Jazz
Tall Poppies TP234
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“Modernist Manchester project pursued way Down Under.” This is modernist music and then some, related in places to jazz and in others to Schoenberg et al, and post-serial music. I love it. Not everyone will but that’s okay by me, and the leader is adjusted to a divided reception. Australysis is assembled in slightly different… continue reading »


Gluck: Iphigénie en Tauride

Pinchgut Opera. Caitlin Hulcup, Grant Doyle, Christopher Saunders, Christopher Richardson, Margaret Plummer, Nicholas Dinopoulos, Cantillation choir, Orchestra of the Antipodes, Antony Walker, Erin Helyard
Classical, Early Music, Opera
Pinchgut Live PG006
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“A beautiful Australian revival of Gluck’s great revolutionary opera.” Quite a number of the very important musical masterpieces of the 18th century are not part of the canon of commonly performed works today. One of the greatest of all such neglected works is Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, first performed in Paris in 1779…. 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 »


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 »


Fiddes vs Tinkler

Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra. Andy Fiddes – composer and conductor; Scott Tinkler – trumpet soloist; David Theak – soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, clarinet; Aaron Michael – alto saxophone, flute; Evan Harris – tenor saxophone, flute; Matt Keegan – tenor saxophone, alto clarinet; Nick Bowd – baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Darryl Carthew – trumpet, flugelhorn; Dane Laboyrie – trumpet, flugelhorn; Ray Cassar – trumpet, flugelhorn; Simon Ferenci – trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Panichi – trombone; Eleanor Shearer – trombone; Ben Gurton – trombone; Justin Kearin – Bass trombone; Carl Morgan – guitar; Hugh Barrett – piano; Tom Botting – contrabass; Jamie Cameron – drums and cymbals
Big Band, Jazz, Music
Rattle Records, New Zealand
www.rattlerecords.net
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

At first the idea of the musical union of trumpeter Scott Tinkler and the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra might appear a little incongruous. One might wonder how Tinkler, whose music sits on the more ‘free’ side of the improvised music spectrum, might work within an ensemble that operates, of necessity, within defined, somewhat inflexible structures. The… continue reading »


Artefact

Jeremy Sawkins Organ Quartet. Jeremy Sawkins, guitars; Darren Heinrich, organ; Spike Mason, saxophones; Toby Hall, drums
Jazz
Commissioned for ABC Jazz Digital Radio
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

The mystical span of the electric guitar; the funk and dance of the electric acoustic. It is no news that the modern electric guitar is capable of textural blitzes of feedback and a whole range of distortion effects. It is also true that it is capable of pure, thin, finely articulated notes that link it… continue reading »


Hymne à l’amour

Siobhan Stagg, soprano; Amir Farid, piano
Art Songs, Classical, Music
Move Records MD 3360
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“Siobhan Stagg has a voice of astounding beauty and working with the wonderful Amir Farid on piano, the duo present a memorable recital of Romantic art songs.” The hugely talented Melbournian soprano Siobhan Stagg recorded this beautiful collection of Romantic art songs in 2013 with pianist Amir Farid, and it is the only available solo… continue reading »


Blackwattle Caprices. Music by Malats, Walton, Ross Edwards, JS Bach, Takemitsu, Tom Waits

Jacob Cordover, classical guitar
Classical, Contemporary, Music, New Music
Cala Records CACD77017
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“Jacob Cordover is an exceptional guitarist and part of his measure is his ability to keep the customer waiting in order to keep the customer satisfied.” This is particularly the case in the well-known Serenata Española originally composed by Joaquín Malats for piano, but a work lending itself superbly to classical guitar, here arranged by… continue reading »


126 Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Composed by Julian Yu

Michael Kieran Harvey, piano
Classical, New Music
Move Records MD 3404 [Double CD]
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“Julian Yu’s 126 Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for piano is a tour de force of compositional craft, brilliantly interpreted by pianist Michael Kieran Harvey.” Julian Yu has already had significant success with his variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as a pedagogical sheet music publication first in Japan and then in China. The… continue reading »


Fluid to the Influence

Chris Abrahams, piano, organ, synthesizers
Improvisation
Room 40 (RM464)
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“One of Australia’s most distinctive improvisational voices has created another finely woven and memorable collection.” But don’t automatically expect this music to be defined by meditative, shimmering beauty. Then again, it depends how you define ‘beauty’. Perhaps this idea, the deconstruction and exploration of textural, tonal, harmonic, rhythmic and improvisational beauty, is at the heart… continue reading »


Dissonants

Hands like Houses. Matty P Cooper, lead guitar; Joel Tyrrell, bass; Trenton Todd Woodley, lead vocals, keyboard, programming; Alex Pearson, rhythm guitar and backing vocals; Matt Parkitney, drums
Contemporary, Experimental Music, Rock
Rise Records
http://handslikehouses.net
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

With their third album Dissonants and eight years under the belt, Canberra-based band Hands like Houses have well and truly ‘arrived’. Hands like Houses have toured extensively over the last couple of years, boosted by the support of the Oregon-based label, Rise. They are quickly impacting on audiences, rising through the ranks as support bands… 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 »


On Love and Science. CD and illustrated hardback book

Zulya and the Children of the Underground. Musicians: Zulya Kamalova, vocals, writer, composer, leader; Lucas Michailidis, guitars; Aviva Endean, clarinets, tenor sax; Anthony Schulz, piano accordion, piano; Justin Marshall, drums, percussion; Andrew Tanner, double bass, jew’s harp. Accompanies illustrated book, hard back by Zulya Kamalova, illustrations by Dilka Bear
Folk, Fusion, Jazz, World
Self- release, self-published, limited edition. Purchase from website
http:// zulyaandthechildrenoftheunderground.com/
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

This multimedia release is Zulya’s finest and most ambitious work to date. It demands attention and accolades. Zulya Kamalova, the Tatar/Australian world music trailblazer never ceases to surprise. Her previous release was a sci-fi computer music extravaganza. This one, back with her brilliant band The Children of the Underground, is a return to her world… continue reading »


The Cool School of the 1950s. The beginning of modern jazz in Australia

Australian Jazz Quintet, and bands led by Michael Walker, Bruce Clarke, Jack Brokensha, Lindsay Copeland, Clare Bail, Eddie Oxley, Brian Brown, Mike Nock
Jazz
2 CDs, Australian Jazz Museum AJM 034. Rare Collectable Jazz
www.ajm.org.au
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

Curious and intriguing pages of modern jazz Down Under There is at least one oddity regarding early Australian modern jazz. Historically it seems to be back to front. In America the first jazz called “modern” (Don Burrows once sensibly pointed out that all jazz was modern in its time) certainly carried less sentiment than the… continue reading »


Amoroso

Grey Wing Trio. Luke Sweeting on piano, Ken Allars on trumpet, and Finn Ryan on drums
Jazz
Jazzhead HEAD 217
lukesweeting.bandcamp.com
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

Sydney’s Grey Wing Trio present music that is seamlessly free-flowing, super-melodic, and harmonically engaging. Amoroso is, above all, infused with adventure, joy, and tenderness. With Luke Sweeting on piano, Ken Allars on trumpet, and Finn Ryan on drums, Grey Wing Trio offer an immediate dual focus on both composition and three-way interaction. But the beauty,… continue reading »


Two-Out

Mike Nock, piano; Roger Manins, tenor saxophone
Jazz
FWM Records 005
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

Two of the finest jazzmen from the ‘Shaky Isles’ play jazz interpretations of popular tunes from the first half of the twentieth century. It is work whose beauty rivals that of the Tony Bennett/Bill Charlap award-winner from last year. This is an album made from recordings undertaken following an informal session of ‘jamming’ between two… continue reading »


Oranges and Sunshine. Elly Hoyt

Elly Hoyt, vocals; Scott Griffiths, piano; Darryn Farrugia, drums; Jonathan Zion, bass; William Barton, didgeridoo; Sarah Curro, violin; Anita Quayle, cello
Jazz
Self-release
www.ellyhoyt.com.au
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

A fine second album from a young up and coming jazz singer, who isn’t afraid to broaden her scope and explore different genres with a kick-ass band. It’s great to see a new generation of Australian jazz singers coming through. Elly Hoyt hails from Tasmania but moved to Brisbane in 2006 to study at the… continue reading »


Sheltering Sky

Drowning Horse. Kim McConchie on vocals and noise, James Wills on drums, Brendan McGrath and Michael Larkins on guitars and Robin Mander on bass
Contemporary, Metal
Art as Catharsis
horsedrowning.bandcamp.com
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

Perth doom/sludge/blackened drone band Drowning Horse offer darkly shimmering, grim sublime-scapes for a post-apocalyptic world. Featuring Kim McConchie on vocals and noise, James Wills on drums, Brendan McGrath and Michael Larkins on guitars and Robin Mander on bass, Drowning Horse’s music is moving, emotional, intense, but also extremely hypnotic and immersive, and I think this… 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 »


Nicole Car: The Kiss

Nicole Car (soprano) with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra conducted by Andrea Molino
Arias, Classical, Music, Opera
ABC Classics 481 2371
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

Soprano Nicole Car is not yet 30, but her superb singing on this solo debut CD and her magnificent voice firmly places her in the top rank of emerging international artists. Nicole Car trained at the Victorian College of the Arts and has won several prestigious competitions: the Herald-Sun Aria (2007), the ASC Opera Awards… continue reading »


Unseen Scenes

Bungalow. Mike Rivett’s Japanese band. Rivett, tenor sax, electronics; Kichi Sata, piano; Hiroshi Ikejiri, bass; Ko Omura, drums, tabla.
Jazz
Studio Songs, YZSO 10057
http://www11.ocn.ne.jp/~songs/Studio_Songs_Web_Site/Welcome.html
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

This Japanese-Australian quartet has a modern yet lyrical approach to their original stylized compositions leading to a balanced and very enjoyable album. Bungalow comprises Mike Rivett, sax, Kichi Sato, piano, Hiroshi Ikejiri, bass, and Ko Omura, drums, and their previous album Digital Seed was released in 2013. Mike Rivett, an Australian from Cairns, has lived… continue reading »


Flute Vox. Works by Takemitsu, Yu, Varèse, Smetanin, Tiutiunnik, Zadro, Vali, B. Dean, Cowie, Page, Kats-Chernin and Glynn

Laura Chislett, Flute; Stephanie McCallum, piano; Thomas Jones, violin
Classical, New Music
Independent release. Double CD (available through Australian Music Centre and Amazon UK)
Reviewed by , March 3rd, 2016

Flute Vox, an outstanding double CD release by flautist Laura Chislett, celebrates a longstanding collaboration with pianist Stephanie McCallum in the interpretation of new Australian flute repertoire. Most of the titles are by Australian composers writing in the 21st century, several of whom have composed for the duo previously. There are a few 20th century… continue reading »


Tuned Darker. Works by Cat Hope, Stuart James and Lindsay Vickery

Decibel. Cat Hope, Lindsay Vickery, Stuart James, Tristan Parr, Aaron Wyatt, Louise Devenish, Caitlin Cassidy
Classical, Electronic Music, New Music
Self-release, LP recording
http://decibel.waapamusic.com
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

In a similar fashion to their wonderfully presented Stasis Ecstatic release, Decibel have chosen the LP vinyl format for their Tuned Darker publication and, whilst not as physically elaborate as the earlier release, it provides a lovely, eye-catching, warm dimension to the overall feel of the album. The title reflects a line from the poem… continue reading »


Alister Spence Trio: Live

Alister Spence, piano, samples, music box; Lloyd Swanton, double bass; Toby Hall, drums, glockenspiel
Jazz
Self-release
www.alisterspence.com
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

Since I began listening to the contemporary end of jazz, or what was the contemporary end then – in the early 1950s that was – I have heard many breakaways from forms and styles that had in themselves been breakaways. Sometimes the breakaway movement was sonically more violent, dissonant (even than thoroughgoing pre-serial atonality) and… continue reading »


Foundations. Modern Works in the Classical Tradition. Includes Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis by Australian composer Andrew Schultz, others by Sergio Cervetti, David Nisbet Stewart, Joanne D Carey, Daniel Perttu and Jonathan Sacks

Kühn Mixed Choir of Prague, conducted by Marek Vorlicek; Libor Dudas, organ; Thomas Pinch, organist, with Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Peter Vronsky
Classical, New Music
Navona Records NV5939
www.navonarecords.com
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

Navona record company, based in North Hampton USA, has put together a collection of choral and instrumental pieces. Eight of the eleven are linked by a common thread of religious texts or themes. All purport to build new structures on old foundations. Of the composers, only Andrew Schultz is Australian. His works were recorded in… continue reading »


There Was a Man Lived in the Moon. Nursery Rhymes and Children’s Songs. Traditional tunes arranged by Andrew Ford.

Jane Sheldon, soprano; Teddy Tahu Rhodes, bass-baritone; various instrumental ensembles
Children's songs, Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 2235
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

Everyone knows that ‘most men’ spend ‘most of their time singing’ as Andrew Ford did when Elsie, now five, was born. What could be more natural than for a new father to sing to his baby the songs that his parents sang to him? Just about anything, actually. No matter. Ford treats the 29 chosen… continue reading »


Hope in My Pocket

Berardi, Foran, Karlen (Kristin Berardi, voice, Sean Foran piano, Rafael Karlen, tenor sax)
Jazz
Pinnacles Music PM0155
www.pinnaclesmusic.net
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

This project came about after the three musicians had worked together on the De-Classified Music series in Brisbane. After realising that 2015 was the ANZAC centenary, they decided to base their project on letters from original ANZACs. This theme is more conceptual than literal. Singer Kristin Berardi has written all the lyrics, with all three… 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 »


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 »


Brandenburg Celebrates

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir directed by Paul Dyer. Soloists: Shaun Lee-Chen, Baroque violin; Jamie Hey, Baroque cello; Melissa Farrow, Baroque flute
Classical, Early Music, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1929
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

A triumphant performance of Zadok the Priest (Handel’s famous coronation anthem of 1727) on the first track of this brilliant CD sets the scene for an exciting selection recorded in 2015, to celebrate 25 years of music making by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir. This renowned ensemble has released 18 CDs under the ABC… continue reading »


The Migration

Stu Hunter (piano) with Cameron Undy (acoustic and electric bass), Simon Barker (drums and percussion), Carl Dewhurst (guitars), Matt Keegan (tenor and baritone sax, alto clarinet), Julien Wilson (tenor sax, bass clarinet, clarinet), James Greening (trombone, pocket trumpet, tuba), Phil Slater (trumpet) and vocalists Katie Noonan (on Twelve Stages of Freedom) and Tina Harrod
Jazz
Habitat (habitat1601)
stuthehunter.com
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

A luxurious, various and vital opus from Sydney pianist Stu Hunter. Featuring performances from the best of Australian jazz – Cameron Undy (acoustic and electric bass), Simon Barker (drums and percussion), Carl Dewhurst (guitars), Matt Keegan (tenor and baritone sax, alto clarinet), Julien Wilson (tenor sax, bass clarinet, clarinet), James Greening (trombone, pocket trumpet, tuba),… continue reading »


Like a Maelstrom: the music of Brendan Colbert

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble, Silo String Quartet, Phoebe Green (viola), Peter Dumsday (piano), Bruno Siketa (trumpet), Timothy Phillips (conductor)
Classical, New Music
crackbellrecords.com
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

Brendan Colbert is a well-established Melbourne-based composer, but perhaps less widely known outside of his home city. While his music has been performed in other parts of Australia and overseas, this CD offers a welcome opportunity for listeners everywhere to enjoy a substantial body of the composer’s recent works. The CD is a recording of… continue reading »


David Ades: A Life in a Day

David Ades, alto saxophone; Tony Malaby, tenor and soprano saxophones; Mark Helias, bass; Gerald Cleaver, drums
Jazz
Lionsharecords LSD20153
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

You may have gathered that over the past couple of years a group of highly important Australian musicians have died. As they all played predominately in the area of jazz, the presumption might be made that drug overdoses or drunken falls from rooftops could have been involved Nothing of the sort. Two parallels might be… continue reading »


H[igh] Curious

Eugene Ball 4tet. Eugene Ball, trumpet; James Macaulay, trombone; James McLean, drums; Mick Meagher, electric bass
Jazz
Opening Gambit Music
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

What is this? It is one of the most startling jazz records, unified yet diverse, that I have heard for some time. Where to start? Well, it begins with a roaring gravelly charge on trumpet, trombone and electric bass, over a crashing back beat, followed by brilliant, passionate trumpet and trombone solos… A transparent electric… continue reading »


Mantras and Night Flowers. Piano music of Ross Edwards and Carl Vine

Bernadette Harvey, piano
Classical, New Music
Tall Poppies TP220
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

I have very strong memories associated with the music of Ross Edwards and Carl Vine. I listened spellbound to Edwards’ Dawn Mantras, the sheer beauty of it, those sublime climactic notes from Jane Sheldon, as it was performed for the Dawn Service, part of celebrations around the world with the new millennium for which the… continue reading »


The Sweetness of Things Half-Remembered

Rafael Karlen, tenor saxophone; Steve Newcomb, piano; Rebecca Karlen, violin; Eugenie Costello-Shaw, violin; Alice Buckingham, viola; Danielle Bentley, cello
Classical, Jazz, New Music
Self-release
To purchase, go to https://rafaelkarlen.bandcamp.com/album/the-sweetness-of-things-half-remembered
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

I faintly recall a time, which might be called the Ignorant Ages, in which some champions of composed music looked upon improvised music with disdain, and deemed it devoid of the nuance and complexity of composed music. At the same time, some devotees of improvised music derided composed music, declaring it uncreative, unimaginative and unadventurous…. continue reading »


Bigly Yellow. 90-minute documentary film

Simon Kent, cornettist, trombonist, composer. Adrian Sherriff, keyboard/didgeridou; Peter Harper, sax; Ted Vining, drums; Roy Voodt, guitar; Stephen Magnusson, guitar. Film directed by Nigel Deans and Nubar Ghazarian
Documentary, Film, Jazz, Music
Produced by Nubar Ghazarian, Tankstand Films, and Nigel Deans, Flying Fish Films
www.tankstandfilms.com/bigly-yellow/
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2016

This is film is a sounding of someone’s life, a plumb or plimsol line through a not notably stable figure, within but sometimes wandering from the Melbourne jazz scene. The camera has returned to him over a period of 15 years. It is of course Simon Kent, whom I met some time ago in Melbourne…. continue reading »


Begin

Alister Spence, Joe Williamson and Christopher Cantillo
Improvisation, Jazz
Alister Spence Music (ASM003)
alisterspence.com
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

This is the first release from the new trio of Australian pianist Alister Spence, Canadian bassist Joe Williamson and Swedish drummer Christopher Cantillo. Meeting at the crossroads of jazz and free improvisation, the musical sympathy and connection between Spence, Williamson and Cantillo is extremely strong (they have been playing together since 2009). The thirteen improvisations… continue reading »


Severe

My Disco. Liam Andrews, bass and vocals; Benjamin Andrews, guitar; Rohan Rebeiro, drums
Contemporary, Punk
Temporary Residence
http://mydisco.com.au
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Severe is formed in the space where explosive streams of percussion and sublime clouds of noise converge. I don’t think I’ve ever been so struck by the level of focus that emanates from the fourth album by Melbourne trio My Disco. The music is extreme, in its lyrical refinement, rhythmic hypnotism, sonic attention to detail,… continue reading »


Lina Andonovska: Flute. Music by Bach, Martinu, & Vine

Lina Andonovska, flute; Rachael Tobin, cello; Ying Ho, piano; Kimberley Steele, piano
Classical, Early Music, New Music
Self-release
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Australia has a long tradition of strong flute playing, going back several generations. Among the leading younger inheritors of the tradition is the Melbourne-based Lina Andonovska, who has been building a solid reputation both nationally and overseas. She is a highly versatile musician, comfortable across a range of styles, most notably in the area of… continue reading »


This Machine

FourPlay String Quartet. Lara Goodridge - violin and vocals, Shenzo Gregorio – viola, Peter Hollo - cello and vocals, and Tim Hollo – viola and vocals
Contemporary, Eclectic
Top Shelf
www.fourplay.com.au
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Fourplay is not your regular string quartet. With two violas instead of two violins, their sound is immediately different, but they also use electronics and vocals to concoct a big sound, at times more reminiscent of a rock band. They formed in 1995 and initially played mostly covers of songs from a wide variety of… continue reading »


The Celtic Songbook

A compilation of melodies from Ireland, Scotland and Wales featuring singers David Hobson, Nollaig Casey, Paul McMahon, Annalisa Kerrigan, Sarah Calderwood and Teddy Tahu Rhodes, with various ensembles
Classical, Folk
ABC Classics 481 1981
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

This CD is a compilation of traditional Celtic melodies sung by well-known artists and selected from recordings made by the ABC between 1996-2015. It is a feast, though it lacks variety in the recipes chosen, with almost all pieces being of the slow melancholic or nostalgic type. Some spicy humorous numbers or rollicking reels would… continue reading »


Kristin Berardi: Where or When

Kristin Berardi, vocals, with Steve Newcomb piano, James Sherlock guitar, Julien Wilson tenor saxophone, Sam Anning bass.
Jazz
ABC Jazz 475 9263
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

All four members of this ensemble have earned a great many individual accolades for their work in Australian jazz. They are undoubtedly recognized as fine performers in their respective fields. The opening title track, Where or When is a highlight. A brief guitar introduction leads into the head statement with Berardi’s well-modulated voice accompanied by… continue reading »


Taking Pictures

Jo Lawry, singer/songwriter, vocals, guitar. One track a duet with Sting
Contemporary, Folk, Jazz, Pop, Rock
Fleurieu Music
www.jolawry.com
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Jo Lawry is a singer/songwriter from South Australia currently living in New York. She is best known as a backing singer with Sting and has been touring the world in his band. She was also featured in the documentary about backing singers, 20 Feet from Stardom. When she was touring with Sting a couple of… continue reading »


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 »


Making Signs

Syzygy. Laila Engle, flutes; Blair Harris, cello; Leigh Harrold, piano; Robin Henry, clarinets; Jenny Khafagi, violin; Guest: Daniel Richardson, percussion
Classical, New Music
Self-release
http://syzygyensemble.com
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

In my early days of teaching, an inquisitive thirteen year old trying to swim in a sea of peers already world-weary, said to me, ‘Miss, did you know that syzygy is the only word in the English language which has three syllables and no vowels?’ I didn’t, but like all good learners, I haven’t forgotten…. continue reading »


Ambon, by Lloyd Swanton

Ensemble, comprising Lloyd Swanton – double bass, Paul Cutlan - bass clarinet, saxophones, recorder, James Eccles - playing Lloyd’s uncle’s viola for its first public performance since the 1930s, Sandy Evans - tenor and soprano saxophones, James Greening - trombone, cornet, pocket trumpet, tuba, Fabian Hevia - cajon, percussion, Chuck Morgan - ukulele, Jon Pease - guitar, Ron Reeves - kendang, percussion, Michel Rose - pedal steel guitar, Alex Silver - trombone, Hamish Stuart - drums
Jazz
2 CDs, Bugle Records. 36-page booklet
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

The question hanging over the Ambon interlude of WWII (for those who have actually heard of it) – is this: why send a cursory force to defend a small island against the Japanese when that island had little strategic value, being closer to Indonesia than to Australia (indeed it is now part of Indonesia)? Well,… continue reading »


This Narrow Isthmus

Julien Wilson Quartet. With Wilson, tenor sax and clarinet; Barney McAll, piano; Allan Browne, drums; Jonathan Zwartz, double bass
Jazz
Lionsharecords LSR20154
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Here is a band at the heart of Melbourne jazz – with a Sydney man who was once a new Zealander on double bass. Julien Wilson has another band with two Sydney players. They are all part of the underground of collaborators who rejoice in the fact that we have two major cities that are… continue reading »


Sand Lines

Jeremy Rose Quartet. Rose, alto and soprano saxophones; Jackson Harrison, piano; Alex Boneham, double bass; James Waples, drums; Carl Morgan, guest guitar.
Jazz
Earshift Music
http://www.earshift.com/jeremy-rose-quartet-sand-lines-out-now/
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Jeremy Rose has achieved national and international recognition for his playing and composing with exotically influenced band The Vampires, and through impressive and quite intricately composed suites – on which he also plays. It is always very pleasant and reassuring when as distinguished a player as Mike Nock sits beside you and, unprompted, shows similar… continue reading »


The Denominators

The Denominators. Paul Derricott, drums; Brendan Clarke, bass; Hugh Barrett, rhodes; Dave Jackson, saxophone. Guest: James Muller, guitar
Jazz
Self-release
www.paulderricott.com
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

I am reticent to generalise, but I am confident that many of you will agree that the notion of excitement in music has something to do with the relationship between accuracy and risk. While we like to hear music that is executed with precision, perfection is not the end-goal. While this is arguably true of… continue reading »


Sonorous Sonatas. Fantasie Australis

Peter Sheridan and the Monash University Flute Ensemble
Classical, New Music
Move Records 3375 and 3366
http://www.move.com.au
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

I don’t usually put my hand up for reviewing new classical music. But I have a great liking for the low versions of orchestral instruments. I like the cor anglais more than the oboe. I love the bass clarinet and adore the tuba and the bass trombone. So when I saw that Sonorous Sonatas was… continue reading »


Babe: orchestral soundtrack. Composed by Nigel Westlake

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nigel Westlake
Film Music
ABC Classics 481 1819
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

The orchestral score composed by Nigel Westlake for the highly acclaimed Australian feature film, Babe (Chris Noonan, 1995), is a delight. It is full of attractive melodies supported by scintillating orchestrations. When Westlake scored Babe, he had only a few screen music credits under his belt, and it is fair to say that the project… continue reading »


Stasis Ecstatic

Decibel. Cat Hope, Lindsay Vickery, Stuart James, Malcolm Riddoch, Tristan Parr, Aaron Wyatt
Classical, Electronic Music, Experimental Music, Improvisation, New Music
Self-release. LP recording
http://decibel.waapamusic.com
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Certainly if the first bite is with the eye then Stasis Ecstatic by Decibel promises to be an attractive and sleek release. Part of the appeal is the retro charm afforded through the physical presentation of the work in LP 33-inch vinyl. I suspect one of the benefits of this format was to highlight the… continue reading »


Arnold Schoenberg. Complete Works for Solo Piano

Danaë Killian, piano
Classical
Move Records MCD 513. 10,000 word accompanying essay on the Move website
Reviewed by , November 2nd, 2015

Looks can be deceiving. Move Records’ recording of Danaë Killian playing the complete works by Schoenberg for piano comes in a case so slender that a label can’t fit on its spine. It also comes without a booklet, although one can be downloaded at the Move website. Given these facts and given that what Killian… continue reading »


Provenance

Vince Jones and Paul Grabowsky
Jazz
ABC Jazz 475 3486
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

For some, the passage of time leads to the solace of entrenchment. But for others an accumulated wisdom entices them to succumb to the persistent eddy of creation. Vince Jones describes it so beautifully, ‘A person who doesn’t create is like a cloud that never rains.’ There is much precipitation on this album. So light… continue reading »


The Art Of The Didgeridoo

William Barton, Matthew Doyle, various ensembles
Classical, Indigenous Australian, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1909
www.abcmusic.com.au/discography/art-didgeridoo
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

Some people are still surprised that the didgeridoo is much more than a drone instrument played by Australian Aboriginal musicians for corroborees and ritual ceremonies. Others may be used to seeing the didgeridoo playing in rock bands like Yothu Yindi, Jamiroquai and by singer/songwriters like Xavier Rudd. But some trailblazers like Mark Atkins, Charlie McMahon,… continue reading »


Cloak of Ash

Hope Drone
Contemporary, Metal
Relapse Records
https://hopedrone.bandcamp.com/album/cloak-of-ash
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

Cloak of Ash, by Brisbane band Hope Drone, is a monumental and affecting collection of seven extremely cohesive songs. This music is very evocative. It made me imagine several images, such as precipitation: rain clouds form, thunderheads rumble, currents of air swirl, torrents of rain fall, floods surge, mist and droplets shimmer. Something about the… continue reading »


Melodious Thunk

Abbreviations Orchestra. Andrew Garton, alto saxophone; Dan Quigley, trumpet; Joe Roberts, tenor saxophone; John Carpenter, trombone; Bruce Woodard, guitar; Phil Jack, bass; Nathan Goldman, drums; guest: Zac Hurren, tenor saxophone
Jazz
Self-release, available for free digital download
www.abbreviationsorchestra.com
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

While the Abbreviations Orchestra is not (by definition) a ‘big band’, its debut album Melodious Thunk is certainly situated more in the realm of highly composed music than the world of improvisation. Though improvisation is a significant component, it is the execution of the notated material that takes precedence here. Happily, the notated material is… 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 »


Antarctica. New music for toy piano and/or piano

Antonietta Loffredo, piano
Classical, New Music
Wirripang Wirr 059
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

Antarctica, released on the Wirripang label, presents 11 composers’ interpretations of earth’s most southern continent, exploring the delicate, unmistakable and endearing timbre of the toy piano (there are in fact two featured throughout the compilation), as well as that of the grand piano, all of which are performed by pianist Antonietta Loffredo. The CD is… continue reading »


I See Seaweed

The Drones
Contemporary, Rock
TFS Records
thedrones.com.au
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

The Drones are perhaps the most important Australian rock band creating music today. While this is a big statement, and one that reflects my own admiration of the literary (and noisy), there is much to love about this group, both lyrically and sonically. Featuring Gareth Liddiard on guitar and vocals, Fiona Kitschin on bass, Dan… 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 »


The Fairy Queen, by Henry Purcell

Pinchgut Opera conducted by Antony Walker. Principal soloists: Sara Macliver (soprano), Sally-Anne Russell (mezzo- soprano), Jamie Allen, Paul McMahon (tenors), and Stephen Bennett (bass). Supporting soloists: Miriam Allan, Belinda Montgomery, Alison Morgan (sopranos), Jenny Duck-Chong (mezzo-soprano), Brett Weymark (tenor), Corin Bone, Simon Lobelson (baritones). Cantillation (chamber choir) and the Orchestra of the Antipodes led by Anna McDonald
Classical, Early Music, Opera
ABC Classics 481 1705
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

At the time Henry Purcell (1659-1695) was composing the music for The Fairy Queen, the London public had developed a definite taste for dramas presented as fanciful large scale spectacles with music and dances as well as dialogue. This new genre was called ‘semi-opera. It had developed from a mix of Restoration court masque and… continue reading »


Rasa Duende. Improvisations

Post by , November 1st, 2015

In the mid-sixties musicians from India, Pakistan and the West began exploring each other’s musical traditions, looking for common ground, playing concerts together and eventually recording together. The trailblazers were Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar. These two giants of their own musical heritages, having met in the fifties, developed a great mutual respect both personally… continue reading »


Starship Z Kosmostan

Zulya Kamalova
Electronic Music, Russian, World
Yammy Music YMCD 2015-001, available on iTunes and Bandcamp
http://zulya.com/ http://kosmostan.com/
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

OK… take a look at the genre classification (electronic Tatar music with sci-fi themes) and tell me this album doesn’t intrigue you. The Republic of Tatarstan is a region of Russia about 800 kilometres east of Moscow. It lies between the Volga and Kama rivers and extends east to the Ural Mountains. Zulya Kamalova is… continue reading »


Island Songs. Works by Peter Scuthorpe, Brett Dean and Ross Edwards

Amy Dickson, soprano and alto saxophones, Sydney Symphony cond. Ben Northey and Miguel Harth Bedoya
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1703
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

A few decades ago it would have been unimaginable for Peter Sculthorpe to have written a piece featuring the saxophone. What changed was the appearance of a brilliant exponent of the instrument, Amy Dickson. Ross Edwards also has been inspired by Dickson to write the piece Full Moon Dances for this release, and is currently… continue reading »


Mutiny Music

Baecastuff
Jazz
Self-release
www.mutinymusic.org
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

Mutiny Music is a journey across the Pacific. The album retells the linked histories of two islands, Pitcairn and Norfolk, while making a close study of musical and cultural fusion. There’s a number of ways of engaging with Mutiny Music. Of course, you can just press ‘play’ and take in the beauty of the varied… continue reading »


Aesthesis

Dead Letter Circus. Kim Benzie (vocals), Luke Williams (drums), Clint Vincent (guitar), Luke Palmer (guitar) and Stewart Hill (bass)
Contemporary
UNFD 070-A
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

Well, I’m locking my gun in the cabinet with the Wedgwood china and discarding the key just to ensure that my penchant for political, environmental and social activism does not lead to a drift from the lagoon of pacifism to the tsunami of violent extremism. (Endnote 1)  My sexagenarian status may render me inept at… continue reading »


Jamie Oehlers. The Burden Of Memory

Jamie Oehlers, tenor saxophone; Paul Grabowsky, piano; Reuben Rogers, bass; Eric Harland, drums
Jazz
Assemblers R002
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

A perceived disjunction between the serious and sometimes even portentous titles of these brilliantly executed pieces and the often gentle feeling of the music held me at bay for a while. The title track must be excepted. This became airborne almost immediately. Racing passages, in which the bass flew lightly, intricately, at speed, on the… continue reading »


Lounge Suite Tango

The Umbrellas. Peter Dasent, piano, organ and accordion; James Greening, trombone, pocket trumpet and sousaphone; Andrew Robson, alto and baritone saxophones; Andrew Wilkie, vibraphone and marimba; Zoe Hauptmann, double bass; Toby Hall, drums
Jazz
Armchair Records ARM 01
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

I listened to this recording several times before I learned anything of the project leader and composer behind it. I must admit I was at first a tad bemused. Before my ears was a series of short, cartoon-esque tunes, but amid the caricatures were glimpses of deep, gritty improvising. It was tricky to know how… 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 »


Hermeto Pascoal. The Monash Sessions.

Hermeto Pascoal, Doug de Vries, James Macauley, Julien Wilson, Jordan Murray and musicians from the Monash University jazz program
Jazz
Jazzhead HEAD 165
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

This album is the first of the Monash Sessions, a series of recordings from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University, Victoria, Australia. In March 2012 world famous Brazilian musician Hermeto Pascoal, after a residency with his band, participated in workshops, rehearsals and the recording of this CD with Australian jazz musicians… continue reading »


beginning and end of knowing. Mike Nock, Laurence Pike

Mike Nock, piano; Laurence Pike, drums
Jazz
FWM Records
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

This is a very valuable recording of a musical conversation between two superb artists, one older than I am by two months (like most of the great men we were born in 1940), the other (Pike) relatively young. The recording was beautifully made over two days in March at Rainbow Studio, Oslo. Just how much… continue reading »


The Remembering and Forgetting of the Air

Jonathan Zwartz
Jazz
Self-release
http://jonathanzwartz.com
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2015

With The Remembering and Forgetting of the Air, Sydney double bassist Jonathan Zwartz has produced another memorable collection of compositions, perhaps even better than his award-winning 2009 recording The Sea. The album features Barney McAll on piano, Phil Slater on trumpet, Julian Wilson on tenor saxophone, James Greening on trombone, Richard Maegraith on tenor saxophone… continue reading »


Josh Kyle. Songs of Friends

Josh Kyle, vocals, with Sam Keevers, piano
Jazz
Self-release
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

See the review for: Josh Kyle. Two discs: Possibilities, and Songs of Friends.


Josh Kyle. Possibilities, and Songs of Friends – two discs

Possibilities: Josh Kyle, vocals, with English band. Songs of Friends: Kyle, vocals, with Sam Keevers, piano
Jazz
Possibilities. Jazzizit Records JITCD 1155 Songs of Friends. Self-release.
https://www.facebook.com/JoshKyleMusic
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Recently we have seen and are still hearing a renaissance of the sometimes problematical art of jazz singing. Right now we will make some remarks regarding Josh Kyle, whose first CD Possibilities (recorded in 2010) is before us, which we will discuss before moving on to his more recent disc. You will have noted that… continue reading »


Francis Poulenc: Complete Music for Solo Piano

Antony Gray, piano
Classical
ABC Classics 481 1835
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Although Francis Poulenc enjoyed a lively career as a pianist, his piano music has to some extent been eclipsed by his operas Les dialogues des Carmélites and La voix humaine, orchestral works such as Les biches and certain of his choral works. Music for his own instrument occupied him reasonably intensely until about the age… continue reading »


My Hero

Greta Bradman, soprano, with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Richard Boynnge
Arias, Classical, Music, Musical Theatre
Decca 481 1894
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Adelaide audiences have been listening to Greta Bradman live for many years. With Christie Anderson and Emma Horwood she formed the enlightening and entertaining trio Eve. She was a surefire drawcard at concerts mounted by The Firm, dedicated to promoting new works by its founders Raymond Chapman Smith and Quentin Grant and other local composers…. continue reading »


Live at Bennett’s Lane

Casey Golden Trio
Jazz
Scrampion Records 2015
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

The ethos of this ensemble is established from the opening drumming introduction to the tune entitled The 16th Hour. The composition proper is a rhythmic study of considerable collective complexity as threes overlay fours. The whole seems to be resolved by the collective understanding of the trio. Resolving differences is a feature of this album…. continue reading »


Prima Luce. A Collection of Christmas Hymns and Chants

Prima Luce. Lily Kelly, Rioghnach McCaughan (sopranos), Genevieve McCaughan, Xavier Piat (altos), John Brazier, James Doig (tenors), Ronan Reilly, Cormac McCaughan (basses)
A cappella, Choral Music, Classical, Early Music, New Music, Plainchant
SWCD 1411
www.primalmusic.com
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Prima Luce is a group of nine young Catholic musicians who released this excellent CD of Christmas choral music in 2014 as part of their wish “to promote the beauty of the Catholic Church’s musical patrimony” (quoted from their website at http://www.primalucemusic.com). I think they have succeeded wonderfully well. Underpinning their beautiful singing is their… 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 »


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 »


Reinventions

Genevieve Lacey and Flinders Quartet
Classical, Early Music, New Music
ABC Classics
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Recorder exponent extraordinaire Genevieve Lacey is the brains and lungs driving this engaging assembly of new meetings with old friends. She is aided and abetted by the Flinders Quartet, comprising Erica Kennedy, Matthew Tomkins, Helen Ireland and Zoe Knighton. Six of J.S. Bach’s Inventions set the pulses of Elena Kats Chernin racing – and ours… continue reading »


The Secret River. Film music by Burkhard Dallwitz

Erkki Veltheim, Ceridwen Welsh, Charlotte Jacke, Jon Heilbron, Yinuo Mu, John Barrett, Rebecca Simpson, David Herzog, Burkhard Dallwitz, The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jan Chalupecky. TV miniseries of the novel by Kate Grenville
Film Music
ABC Classics 481 1824
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

The Secret River is a two-part television series based on the novel of the same name by Australian author Kate Grenville. It provides a devastating account of the brutality of life for first white settlers in Sydney and along the Hawkesbury River, and for the Aboriginal people whose land was overrun and whose people were… continue reading »


Still Still. Gian Slater

Gian Slater Trio. Gian Slater, voice and compositions, Nathan Slater, guitar, Chris Hale, bass guitar
Jazz
Which Way Music WWM 020
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Some years ago, I heard tracks from a feature album on ABC Radio National by Gian Slater, a then-recent graduate of the jazz course at the Victorian College of the Arts. At that time, I had just been working with a number of students from VCA at the Hawkesbury National Fiddle Festival. The wonderful staff… 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 »


Alister Spence and Raymond MacDonald. Stepping Between the Shadows

Alister Spence, piano and prepared piano; Raymond MacDonald, alto and soprano saxophones
Improvisation, Jazz
Rufus Records, RF095
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Two musicians improvising together can be imagined as a Venn diagram, where the distinct ‘musicalities’ (think personalities expressed through music) of the individuals partially converge in moments of shared experience. This is not to suggest, however, that improvisers working in this format concern themselves primarily with expanding the zone of intersection: On the contrary, playing… continue reading »


Bohemian Rhapsody

Benaud Trio
Classical, New Music
Melba Recordings MR301142
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Benaud Trio brothers Ewen (violin) and Lachlan (cello) Bramble plus pianist Amir Farid are outstandingly well balanced. Winner of their section in the Australian Chamber Muisc Competition in 2005, they have built a significant reputation for thorough preparation and finely detailed performances. Farid has the true chambers pianist’s approach, the Benauds both stalwarts of the… continue reading »


Across the Top

Paul Cutlan, Brett Hirst, The NOISE
Improvisation, Jazz
Tall Poppies TP211
www.tallpoppies.net
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Across the Top is a convincing synthesis of European art music influences and jazz-informed improvisation. Paul Cutlan, one of Sydney’s leading improvising saxophonists, provides compositions that he performs with great sensitivity alongside bassist Brett Hirst and string quartet The NOISE – Veronique Serret and Lisa Pallandi on violin, James Eccles on viola, Ollie Miller on… continue reading »


Sanctuary. A meditation on memory, identity, family and the power of regeneration.

Gary Daley
Classical, Country, Jazz, Rock
Self-release
http://garydaley.com.au/welcome-ii/shop/
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

This is one of the most impressive and disturbing releases I have heard in recent times. Disturbing? It is difficult to disentangle the inherent power of this music from personal associations. Okay. Look, there is nothing unusual about me. I have been voted most boring man in Glebe and Annandale eight years in a row,… 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 »


Resonances: Music for Harp: The Marshall McGuire Collection

Marshall McGuire, harp
Classical, Early Music, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1482. 2 CDs
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

Marshall Maguire is one of our national treasures in the field of music performance, particularly in new classical music where he has contributed brilliantly to many modernist and experimental scores. This double CD release (mainly) of solo harp music represents a rather different side of Maguire’s artistic practice. One could say that none of the… continue reading »


A Dove, A Lion, A Coast, A Pirate

Luke Howard Trio. Luke Howard, piano; Daniel Farrugia, drums; Jonathan Zion, double bass
Jazz
Which Way Music WWM018
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

This album is one of several recent Australian jazz albums to have been recorded at Rainbow Studio in Oslo that raises the question: why are Australian musicians going to Norway? The two countries have some similarities – both are middle size economies with a sparsely populated hinterland, enormous natural resources, an educated, fairly wealthy and… continue reading »


Paper Planes. Film score by Nigel Westlake

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Westlake. Performers include Michael Keiran Harvey, Riley Lee, Hannah Coleman, Cold Chisel, Lior. Film directed by Robert Connolly, starring Ed Oxenbould, Sam Worthington.
Classical, Contemporary, Film Music, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1477
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

Based somewhat loosely on a true story, Paper Planes is a film for children scored by Nigel Westlake. It’s the highest grossing Australian children’s film ever. The original true account described on the ABC’s Australian Story (see link below) is about a young adult, Dylan Parker, who is a keen distance flyer of paper planes…. continue reading »


Mooroolbark

Barney McAll, with Julien Wilson, Stephen Magnusson, Jonathan Zwartz, Simon Barker, Mino Cinelu, and Shannon Barnett
Jazz
ABC Jazz 473 1260
www.abcmusic.com.au
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

One of our most engaging pianists, Barney McAll is currently working in Australia as the Peggy Glanville-Hicks Resident Composer (he is usually based in New York). McAll’s touch is unmistakable: a combination of the incredible force with which he performs (I’ve never seen someone play the piano so hard), his beautifully contorted harmonic language, and… continue reading »


Navigator

Arrow. Paul Derricott, drums and compositions; Eamon Dilworth, trumpet and compositions; Thomas Botting, double bass; Ben Hauptman, guitar
Jazz
Alluvium Records AR003
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/arrow3
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

Navigator is the second release from drummer Paul Derricott under the ensemble name Arrow. Given that he penned over 50% of the album, however, perhaps credit belongs equally to Derricott’s long-time collaborator, trumpeter Eamon Dilworth. Navigator is, in fact, a recording built on the notion of collaboration. This is not an album of tunes that… 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 »


Deep Blue and Dirty. Works by Andrew Schultz

Southern Cross Soloists
Classical, New Music
Wirripang Wirr 065
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2015

Note: Due to some editorial mismanagement, we have received two reviews of this disc, the other by Gwen Bennett. We have decided that it would be interesting to publish both. “Deep Blue and Dirty” indeed is the title piece of Andrew Schultz’s collection, ten items played with unfailing excellence by various combinations of the Southern… 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 »


Emerald Leopard. Works by Brooke Green, Kats-Chernin, Andrea Pandolfo, Ross Edwards, and Gibbons, Morley, Dowland

Josie and the Emeralds. Josie Ryan (soprano), Brooke Green, Laura Moore, Catherine Upex, Fiona Ziegler (viols).Guest artists: Belinda Montgomery (soprano), Margo Adelson, Anthea Cottee, Elizabeth Rumsey, Laura Vaughan (viols), Jacques Emery (double bass and percussion)
Classical, Early Music, New Music
Tall Poppies TP233.
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

Josie and The Emeralds have received critical acclaim for their concerts in Sydney and Canberra since their formation in 2011. They play an innovative mix of Renaissance works, original compositions by Brooke Green (their director), and her arrangements of both Renaissance and contemporary pieces. They have selected favourites from their current repertoire to produce this,… continue reading »


Neighbouring Objects

Mike Majkowski, bass
Improvisation
Astral Spirits
http://monofonuspress.com/store/astral-spirits-batch-5
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

Bassist-improviser Mike Majkowski presents another highly refined and impressively performed exploration of (mostly) solo bass on Neighbouring Objects. The playing here is so focused and the territory explored is so rich and resonant that one gets the feeling of being deeply embedded in this soundscape. Like his last album Why is there something instead of nothing (2013), the listener… continue reading »


Mozart: Stolen Beauties. Chamber music by Mozart, Punto and Michael Haydn

Ironwood with Anneke Scott, natural and piston horns
Classical
ABC Classics 481 1244
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

This recital album is a wonderful piece of work, featuring the English horn virtuoso Anneke Scott and the Australian ensemble Ironwood. In several respects, this recital is a very fine advertisement for the value of performance-oriented musicology (when it is done well). Scott’s own researches into the horn repertoire of the late 18th and early… continue reading »


Big Sea

Arrow. Paul Derricott, drums; Hugh Barrett, piano; Dale Gorfinkel, vibes; Simon Ferenci, trumpet; Mike Majkowski, bass
Jazz
Jazzgroove JGR057
www.paulderricott.com
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

We live in an age where diversity is the key to a successful and happy life as a jazz/contemporary musician. Consider then, the challenge for such musicians when the time comes to release a debut recording: How does a diverse player represent her/himself on a single recorded artefact? For some, the problem results in a… continue reading »


Truth Seekers, Lovers and Warriors

Joseph Tawadros, oud. With James Tawadros, req, bendir; Matt McMahon, piano; James Greening, trombone; James Crabb, accordion
Music, New Music
ABC Music 481 1632
www.josephtawadros.com
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

Truth Seekers, Lovers and Warriors sees Sydney’s world-renowned oud player Joseph Tawadros assemble a slightly unusual collection of musicians from Sydney and abroad. I have seen the Tawadros brothers (James plays req and bendir) perform in Sydney with pianist Matt McMahon, but the addition of James Greening on trombone and Scottish born accordionist James Crabb… continue reading »


Permanence

Storm the Sky. Daniel Breen, vocals; Will Jarratt, clean vocals; Andy Szetho, guitar; Lachlan Avis, guitar; Benny Craib, bass; Alex Trail, drums
Contemporary
UNFD 055-A
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

This week I viewed favoured images from the Hubble telescope. I tried to get my head around the scale of just one galaxy, not the entire universe, but couldn’t. Then I watched a TED talk where the neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran talked about our brains. He described how this ugly piece of jelly-like matter can fit… 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 »


Peter Sculthorpe 1929-2014 The ABC Recordings. PART 2

Various Australian orchestras and soloists
Classical, New Music
10-CD box set plus one DVD: ABC Classics 481 1293
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

PART 2 OF A REVIEW BY MICHAEL HANNAN OF THIS 10-DISC SET, PUBLISHED IN JULY 2015. PART 1 WAS PUBLISHED IN JUNE. BOTH CAN BE FOUND IN THE COMPLETE LIST OF REVIEWS. Around 1980, when I was preparing my book on Peter Sculthorpe’s music for publication by the University of Queensland Press, I showed the… continue reading »


X-ray Baby. Works by Hsieh, Martin, Pinto d’Aguiar, Neal

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble, directed by Timothy Phillips
Classical, New Music
Crackbell Records
http://arckosymphonicorchestra.bandcamp.com/album/x-ray-baby www.crackbellrecords.com
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2015

Arcko Symphonic Ensemble is well known to new music enthusiasts in Melbourne, and now with this release of a live recording CD (also available as download), it will surely begin to gather a well-deserved wider audience. Founded in 2008, the ensemble has sought to fill several gaps in the performance of new music in Australia…. 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 »


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 »


Hetty Kate: Dim All the Lights. Vintage Love Songs of Peggy Lee, June Christy and Julie London

Hettie Kate, voice, with Sam Keevers, piano; Ben Robertson, bass; James Sherlock, guitar; Danny Farrugia, drums.
Jazz
ABC Jazz 378 2335
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2015

This CD features nine classics from the Great American Songbook, sung by a young woman from Melbourne whose voice possesses a purity of tone that is perfect for the chosen material. Combining this timbral quality with a sense of phrasing destined to extract sub-textual meaning from the lyrics, and a control of pitch that is… continue reading »


Peter Sculthorpe 1929-2014 The ABC Recordings. PART 1

Various Australian orchestras and soloists
Classical, New Music
10-CD box set plus one DVD: ABC Classics 481 1293
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2015

Reviewed in two parts by Michael Hannan Part 1, June 1, 2015, Part 2, July 1, 2015 This impressive box set of the ABC’s recordings of Peter Sculthorpe was released shortly after his death in August 2014. On opening the box the first thing one notices is the thick booklet, which runs to 88 pages… continue reading »


This Time

Grigoryan Brothers
Classical, Jazz, New Music, World
Which Way Music WWM022
www.whichwaymusic.com
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2015

This album was difficult to resist given the names adorning it. The Grigoryan Brothers need no introduction. Slava and Leonard Grigoryan are highly renowned guitarists in both Australia and around the globe with many awards to their credit. Here they have collaborated with quite diverse composers, from the nouveau classical Nigel Westlake, to jazz composer… continue reading »


Kapture

Post by , June 1st, 2015

Kapture is a masterfully performed fusion of jazz and Indian classical musics with a sprinkling of other influences from across the globe. Sandy Evans (alto and tenor saxophone), Bobby Singh (tabla), Brett Hirst (double bass) and Toby Hall (drums and percussion) are joined on four of the twelve tracks by vocalist Sarangan Sriranganathan. Inspired by… continue reading »


Alluvium

Tiny Hearts. Eamon Dilworth, Dave Jackson, Steve Barry, Tom Botting, Paul Derricott, plus Elana Stone.
Jazz
Alluvium Records AR001
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2015

Presented as “a collection of stories written individually and re-imagined together”, this album by Tiny Hearts is true to its promise with some fine writing and good individual and collective improvisation. The group’s music does indeed sound like the sum of individual parts or as they put it, “segments of personality drifting along a stream… continue reading »


Suspicion

The Tango Saloon
Experimental Music, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Tango
Romero Records and Newmarket Music NEW3342.2/ROM010
http://thetangosaloon.com
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2015

Any band that describes itself as experimental tango meets spaghetti western with a dose of film score, rock, pop, gypsy, jazz and electronica thrown in for good measure is going to grab my attention. The Tango Saloon makes music that is indeed Piazzolla meets Morriconi and Equivel. I first came across them when they appeared… continue reading »


Giraffe Solos

John Encarnacao
Experimental Music, Improvisation
Psychopajama Records #PJ 4911/ PJ4911CD
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

Giraffe Solos is a collection of wholly improvised pieces performed on a prepared steel string acoustic guitar. To help contextualize this, the latest release from John Encarnacao, it may be helpful to consider a little background on the link between the practice of preparing musical instruments and free improvisation. Since the middle of the 20th… continue reading »


Wings of a Dove. Music of serenity and peace.

Various artists
Classical
ABC Classics 482 2429
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

Are you in a hurry to find a gift for that great aunt you hardly know? Perhaps you are on your way to a family Christmas do, and you need to find something appealing, under $25 and inoffensive? Well this compilation CD will be the perfect answer to your prayers! Just pop into the Post… continue reading »


Switches & Hose

Dale Gorfinkel
Improvisation
Splitrec
www.dalegorfinkel.com www.splitrec.com
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

I love the way Melbourne-based improviser, multi-instrumentalist, instrument builder and installation artist Dale Gorfinkel lists all of the objects he uses to make sound on Switches & Hose. On the first track alone Gorfinkel uses a footpump, balloons, garden irrigation, taps, plastic containers and reeds. This is highly rhythmic music, hopping across shifting speeds and… continue reading »


Roger Woodward: A Concerto Collection

Roger Woodward, piano
Classical, New Music
7-CD box set: ABC Classics 481 1324
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

It has often been noted that Australia seems to have produced more than its fair share of great pianists during the last century and a half (if you start a list it just goes on and on: Ernest Hutcheson, Winifred Burston, Percy Grainger, Eileen Joyce, Bruce Hungerford, Gordon Watson, Geoffrey Parsons, Geoffrey Tozer, Larry Sitsky,… continue reading »


to your poverty quietly go

Umlaut
Contemporary, Experimental Music, Rock
Newmarket Music and Romeo Records
http://newmarketmusic.com/album/To-Your-Poverty-Quietly-Go.html
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

The second album by Melbourne experimental rock ensemble Umlaut is a cinematic, restless and beautifully arranged collection of songs. At only 32 minutes long I was definitely left wanting more – I wish I could walk around in the film-world scored by Umlaut, a place built with slightly distorted dimensions. At first it seems like… continue reading »


Smörgåsbord – The Marais Project

The Marais Project directed by Jenny Eriksson and Tommie Andersson
Classical, Early Music, Folk, New Music
MOVE MCD 512
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

Each new CD from the Marais Project is a revelation, either of lesser-known works or of new contexts for this collection of early instruments. This current CD continues their tradition with a primary focus on the classical, folk and popular music of Sweden presented in the lush rich tones of baroque instrumentation—indeed a tasty and… continue reading »


The Quartets: Peter Sculthorpe with the Goldner Quartet

Peter Sculthorpe, Goldner String Quartet
Classical, New Music
DVD ABC Classics 076 2914
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

I was lucky enough to recently hear the Goldner Quartet at The Recital Centre in Melbourne as part of their twentieth anniversary celebrations. In the fragile world of string quartets that’s almost worthy of a letter from Her Maj! I know Beethoven is a favourite of theirs, but it was the Ligeti that was awesome…. continue reading »


Matthew Sheens. Untranslatable

Matthew Sheens, piano, with Sara Serpa, vocals, Michael Mayo, vocals, Mike Moreno, guitar, Linda Oh, bass, Kenneth Salters, drums, Rodregio Boccato, percussion, Stefani Collins, violin 1, Francesca Dardani, violin 2, Yumi Oshima, viola, Hiro Matsuo, cello, Yanni Burton, double bass
Jazz
ABC Music
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/untranslatable/id904229781 www.matthewsheens.com
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

Compositions that employ straight (not swung) quavers, complex meters and complex harmonic sequences have been heard in jazz for decades and are very much in vogue today. This is not surprising given that many young jazz musicians are heavily influenced by ‘popular’ music (straight quavers), and are conservatoire trained and as such, often drawn to… continue reading »


Brotherhood

Abbey, Foster, Falle
Jazz
Newmarket NEW3319.2
www.facebook.com/abbeyfosterfalle
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

Jazz thrives on the sustained development of integrity and trust formed in the relationships between musicians within micro and macro music communities around the world over time. The music of such communities often beckons members of extremely diverse backgrounds and interests to join and flourish within the ranks of its existing participants. Somehow or other… continue reading »


Elgar, Britten, Walton

Li-Wei Qin, cello, London Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Zhang Yi
Classical
ABC Classics 481 1243
www.abcclassics.com
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

What a treasure trove. All English – see the Union Jack cello on the sleeve – one of the romantic classics for the super-emotional cello, sea pictures that evoke the sights and smells of Peter Grimes territory and Walton’s follow-up to Elgar nearly four decades later. Extra pleasure too in that Australia can claim some… continue reading »


Outliers

Casey Golden Trio
Jazz
Self-release. https://caseygoldenmusic.bandcamp.com/album/outliers
www.caseygolden.com
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

Casey Golden’s music is a breath of fresh air. In some ways his music is everything you would expect from an Australian contemporary jazz release. It has virtuoso musicianship, odd metric structures and pop sensibilities, but it is also much more. Golden’s orchestrations wrest as much colour and variation out of the trio (piano, bass,… continue reading »


Adam Katz

Adam Katz, piano. With Keith Carlock, Julien Wilson, Steve Magnusson, Nic Lam, Christian Meyer, Ben Anderson, Brendan Tsui on various tracks
Jazz
Newmarket Music, NEW 3321.2
www.adamkatzmusic.com
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

This cheerful album is well recorded with good clear sound at the reputable Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne, and features a good line-up of Melbourne based musicians with Adam Katz, piano, Keith Carlock, drums, Julien Wilson, and Ben Anderson, sax, Steve Magnusson, Nic Lam, and Christian Meyer, guitar, Ben Anderson, sax, and Brendan Tsui, bass…. continue reading »


Schumann Piano Trios

Susan Collins, violin; Sue Ellen Paulsen, cello; Duncan Gifford, piano
Classical
ABC Classics 476 5165
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

Robert Schumann was surely one of the great figures of European music in the 19th century, one who really did play a pivotal role in turning musical composition in new directions. His originality as a composer was underpinned by deep scholarship and an energetic engagement with contemporary music, not to mention a great generosity towards… continue reading »


Mosaic: Australian Guitar Concertos. Works by Richard Charlton, Ross Edwards, Philip Bracanin, Peter Sculthorpe

Karin Schaupp (guitar), Benjamin Northey, Richard Mills, Ronald Spigelman (conductors), Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 0961
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

Mosaic: Australian Guitar Concertos, makes for an interesting historical document. This compilation of recordings, made at different times between 1993 and 2006, is a snapshot of a particular kind of Australian music of the early 1990s. This is a body of work that in hindsight seems strangely inhibited in many ways, certainly conservative, and one… continue reading »


Every Eight Seconds

Matthew Sheens, piano, with octet
Jazz
Self-release
www.matthewsheens.com
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

It’s not very often one discovers a young pianist who impresses you with his technique, compositions, arrangements and ambition. Adelaide’s US-based Matthew Sheens satisfies in all these areas. His music is very well arranged, with well thought out and structured compositions usually comprising many different sections, layers of melody, counterpoint, and interweaving rhythms. There are… continue reading »


A Rain from the Shadows

Zephyr Quartet
Classical, New Music
Self-release
www.zephyrquartet.com
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

Zephyr Quartet has established an enviable reputation in Adelaide for its adventures into territories way beyond the normal boundaries of its genre. Their enterprise has been rewarded by several awards, notably the Ruby Award in 2006. They have a penchant for bonding with other art forms. At a recent concert in the studio of Hossein… 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 »


A Little Variation: Variation Form as Used by Australian Composers

Jeanell Carrigan, piano. Works by McKay, Webb, Hannan, Polglase, Davidson, Isaacs.
Classical, New Music
Australian Music Centre VAST032.2
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

Jeanell Carrigan is a passionate pianist. She seems to be able to harness that passion and find works by primarily Australian composers that deserve a thorough, active listening. Without her, a lot of good music would lie mouldering in the corner and never be discovered. Carrigan’s past work, for labels such as Wirripang (www.australiancomposers.com.au) and… continue reading »


Seasons of Love

Gian Slater, Eddie Perfect, Tony Gould and Graeme Lyall
Jazz
Move MD 3365
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

Jazz musicians have been recording with strings for some time now. Though dance bands of the 1940s often employed small string sections, it was the albums of the 1950s featuring the most prominent instrumentalists of the day – Parker, Clifford, Dizzy, Wes – that truly established the tradition in which Seasons of Love sits. While… continue reading »


First Intersection

Daryl Pratt Band. Daryl Pratt (vibraphone), Matt McMahon (piano & Fender Rhodes), Richard Maegraith (alto & tenor saxophone), Philip South (acoustic/electric percussion, marimba, sound design & malletKat), Emile Nelson (4 & 5-string electric basses), Jared Underwood (drums)
Jazz
Self-release
http://sydney.edu.au/music/staff-profiles/daryl.pratt.php
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

From the first note to the last, this album establishes unequivocally that the Sydney-based Daryl Pratt Band is a stimulating collective of virtuosi. Indeed, it is a wise choice of players, as Pratt’s elaborate compositions demand a high degree of sensitivity, awareness and stamina balanced in wide variety and contrast throughout the album. Individually, each… continue reading »


Live at PBSFM 1981

Ted Vining Trio
Jazz
Newmarket3314.2
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

The Ted Vining Trio, consisting of Vining on drums, Bob Sedergreen piano and Barry Buckley on bass, was three-quarters of the quartet that made me excited about ‘free’ jazz in 1977. I heard about the Brian Brown Quartet while I was attending a music education conference in Canberra. Brown was in the midst of a… continue reading »


Aubade & Nocturne: Music of Sally Greenaway

Sally Greenaway; Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra; Luminescence Chamber Choir; Trichotomy; others
Big Band, Classical, Jazz, Music, New Music
Self-release
www.sallygreenaway.com.au
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

Young composers with the stamina and wherewithal to independently fund, record, and produce their own albums are rare. Sally Greenaway has managed it three times. Her first two records focused on the big band. This album, her first art music foray, is a significant departure. Taking her inspiration from the ABC Swoon series, Ms Greenaway… continue reading »


Mahler. Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Lieder – Five Rückert Lieder, Kindertotenlieder and four Lieder from Lieder und Gesänge aus der Jugendzeit

Teddy Tahu Rhodes (bass-baritone), Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Marko Letonja (conductor), Sharolyn Kimmorley (piano)
Classical
ABC Classics 481 0484
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

The five Rückert Lieder composed by Gustav Mahler(1860-1911) from 1901-2, stand as individual songs, rather than as a cycle, and the order of performance varies. Mahler chose poems by Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866) because he wanted to express man’s inner psychological states as truthfully as possible. He said to Anton von Webern at the time:  “After… continue reading »


Volume Two

The Cope Street Parade. Justin Fermino, tenor saxophone and vocals; Ben Panucci, guitar and vocals; Aaron Flower, guitar; Sam Dobson, double bass; Grant Arthur, sousaphone, trombone and backing vocals
Jazz, Traditional
Yum Yum Tree Records YYTR 016
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

Early jazz styles have a long and rich history in Australia. Though their popularity has repeatedly waxed and waned, the tradition remains very much alive in Australia today. There is, however, a dilemma with which most contemporary musicians who look to the past for inspiration must grapple, which lies around the false dichotomy of imitation… continue reading »


A Little French Cello

Zoe Knighton, cello, Amir Farid, piano
Classical
Move Records MD 3367
www.move.com.au
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

This CD was immediately appealing given my love for all things turn of the century (19th to 20th) the wondrous contribution of the French to all aspects of that time’s aesthetic, my relatively nouveau affaire d’amour with the cello and a musical encounter with Amir Farid performing the 1st Piano Trio by Brahms. This was… continue reading »


Cat’s Squirrel

Merzbow and Oren Ambarchi
Improvisation, Noise
Hospital Hill (HHCD04130740)
www.hospitalhill.com.au
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

Cat’s Squirrel presents two of the world’s finest purveyors of noise music, in duo format for the first time. The legendary Merzbow (real name Masami Akita), Japan’s lord of noise, joins Australia’s loudest and heaviest noise guitarist, Oren Ambarchi. This album is a pair of fifteen minute-long improvisations – recorded live at the Campbelltown Arts… continue reading »


Tender Earth

Simon Tedeschi, piano. Works by Kevin Hunt, Mark Isaacs, Evan Lohning, Mike Nock, Bill Risby
Jazz
ABC Classics 481 0960.
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

Simon Tedeschi observes in the liner notes that all the Australian composers selected for this recording are “jazzers”, whom he considers to be ahead of the curve conceptually here in Australia. “Jazz, an art music for many decades, has produced some of our country’s finest musical auteurs”. It’s an interesting claim, quite possibly true, but… continue reading »


The Worry

Seekae
Contemporary, Electronica
Future Classic
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

On The Worry, the third album release by Sydney trio Seekae, twelve often minimal, moody, and finely balanced tracks are offered, showcasing the burgeoning songwriting and arranging abilities of Alex Cameron, George Nicholas and John Hassell. The trio are also credited with production. The ‘traditional’ songwriting aspect of The Worry is elevated by the trio’s… continue reading »


Mad Rush. Piano works by Philip Glass

Lisa Moore, piano
Classical, New Music
Orange Mountain Music 0099
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

At the outset I must confess to taking on this CD review more out of admiration for Lisa Moore’s track record as a performer of new music than for Glass’s compositions, with which I have struggled for four decades to appreciate. As I suspected, Moore does not disappoint in the execution of these piano works…. continue reading »


Daydreamer

Darren Harts (Harts), composer, performer
Contemporary, Disco, Electronic Music, Funk, Soul
Offtime Music 3967772
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

One of the pearls of wisdom offered by awesome guitarist, Bob Spencer, of Angels and Skyhooks fame, was that it isn’t the number of notes you play, but where you place them. Daydreamer is the first album I’ve listened to in a very long time which provokes contemplation of that truism. Darren Hart, stage name,… continue reading »


Can You See with Two Sets of Eyes?

Marc Hannaford, piano, with Ellery Eskelin,Tom Rainey, Scott Tinkler
Experimental Music, Jazz
Self-release
http://www.marchannaford.com/buy
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

If you have ever had the pleasure of conversing with Marc Hannaford, or of reading his regular blog ‘Dualism aside…’, you are likely to have been quick to establish for yourself that he is extremely serious about life and music. In listening through his latest album – beautifully recorded in New York City and released… continue reading »


Malign

Forenzics. Matthew Syres (guitar and effects), Joe Cummins (trumpet and electronics), Dirk Kruithof (guitar and fretless bass), John Wilton (drums)
Experimental Music, Improvisation
Self-release, CD and digital download
https://forenzics.bandcamp.com/album/malign
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

Forenzics is a Sydney-based collective of improvising musicians with a changing line-up of members and collaborators around the core group of Matthew Syres (guitar), Joe Cummins (trumpet and electronics) and Dirk Kruithof (guitar, bass). In this, their fourth album, the trio is joined by drummer John Wilton. Admirably, the album was recorded without overdubs or… 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 »


Verklärung: ecstatic exercises for cello

Anna Martin-Scrase, cello. Composition by Moya Henderson.
Classical, Music, New Music
Self-release, HEN002
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

Moya Henderson is an enigmatic figure in Australian music. Perhaps best known in the public imagination for her powerfully terrifying opera about the tragedy of Lindy Chamberlain, she is also the composer of a good deal of chamber music and other theatre pieces. There’s something hard to box and label about her work, which somehow… continue reading »


Place to Be

Alex Stuart - guitar, composition; Irving Acao - tenor saxophone & Fender Rhodes; Stephane Guillaume - tenor & soprano saxophone; Antoine Banville - drums & gong; Christophe Wallemme - double & electric bass
Jazz
Gaya Music Productions
www.alexstuartmusic.com
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

Alex Stuart is an Australian guitarist who has been living and performing in Paris for a number of years. I am not sure how he is received in Europe, but his work makes an interesting counterpoint to Australian jazz as a geographically distant but highly relevant exponent of contemporary jazz guitar playing and composition. Having… 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 »


Nick Parnell. Vibes Virtuoso

Nick Parnell, marimba; Amir Farid, piano
Classical
Self-release
www.nickparnell.com
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

Bach and Handel (18th century) on the 20th century vibraphone? Arrangements of music for violin, voice, baroque and modern symphony orchestra? Absolutely, as long as the multi-mallet wielder and arranger is Nick Parnell and his partner in percussion is Amir Farid. Gene Kelly dances on the walls of your listening room to Gershwin’s nimble American… continue reading »


Handel. Rodelinda: Selected Arias

Sydney Lyric Orchestra, cond. Richard Bonynge. Rodelinda - Valda Wilson (soprano), Bertarido - Fiona Janes (mezzo soprano), Grimoaldo - John Longmuir (tenor), Eduige - Liane Keegan (mezzo soprano), Unulfo- Lorina Gore (soprano), Garibaldo - Michael Lewis (baritone)
Arias, Classical, Early Music, Music, Opera
ABC Classics 481 0987
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

This disc is pure joy to listen to! One exquisite aria after another (16 in all!) beautifully sung by a top cast of six singers and supported by an excellent small orchestra. Of course the opera is one of Handel’s masterpieces but I suspect the magic ingredient that makes this interpretation so special, is the… continue reading »


Tinkly Tinkly

Jess Green’s Bright Sparks
Jazz
Yum Yum Tree Records (YYTR007)
www.jessgreen.com.au
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

Tinkly Tinkly is the second release by Sydney guitarist and vocalist Jess Green. Despite the size of Green’s band (eight players), the music here is mobile, often full of light, dark when it wants to be, and strikingly diverse. I put the openness and agility of this album down to great arranging: the players are… continue reading »


Ten. Chopin: Etudes, Op. 10. Godowsky: Studies on Chopin’s Etudes, Op. 10

David Stanhope, piano
Classical, Music
Tall Poppies TP230
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

Ten is a remarkable release from the Australian Tall Poppies label, of the pianist David Stanhope playing not only Chopin’s Op. 10 Etudes but also 22 recomposed versions of them by Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938). Stanhope himself is no ordinary pianist—and indeed most pianists would not attempt to play this challenging repertoire—although he describes himself as… continue reading »


Pillar of Wisdom (Cantigas de Santa Maria, Vol. IV). Gabriel’s Message (Cantigas de Santa Maria, Vol. V). (Two discs)

The Renaissance Players, directed by Winsome Evans
Classical, Early Music
Tall Poppies TP 231 and 232
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

These two discs conclude a five CD series drawing from the extensive collection of songs in the Cantigas de Santa Maria attributed to King Alfonso X (1221-1284) of Castile. Every one of the 420 poems with musical settings in the manuscript makes mention of the Virgin Mary, placing her in the narrative often in direct… continue reading »


Paper Tiger

Stephen Magnusson, Jamie Oehlers and Ben Vanderwal
Jazz
Assemblers Records (assemblers001)
www.assemblersrecords.com
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

On Paper Tiger, three Australian jazz stalwarts combine in the slightly unusual bassless format. Such a move gives a lightness to the sound that suits the improvisations and song choices of tenorist Jamie Oehlers, guitarist Stephen Magnusson and drummer Ben Vanderwal. Of the fifteen tracks, all but four are originals, and the playing and compositional… continue reading »


Children’s Songs

Composed and performed by Mark Isaacs, piano
Classical, New Music
Soundbrush Records SR1029
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

People are often drawn to particular historical times. For me, the more I learn about ancient Greek and Mesopotamian civilisations, the more I realise that ‘progress’ is not a natural, upwardly inclining gradient, but rather resembles the movement of the Aussie dollar against the greenback. It is the mix of ideas, scientific, mathematical, philosophical and… continue reading »


Open Polar Sea. Works by Col Fuhler, Salvatore Sciarrino, Morton Feldman, Damien Barbeler, Daniel Blinkhorn and Anna McMichael

Anna McMichael, solo violin, with Col Fuhler on one track
Classical, Electronic Music, Experimental Music, Improvisation, New Music
unsounds 46u (digital download)
http://unsounds.com/shop/open-polar-sea
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

Not so long ago, the fashion was for completeness in CD recordings: the complete works of Morton Fledman for violin and piano, for example. In the past several years, however, we have seen a growth in the popularity of the anthology-recital; albums of often short pieces (sometimes only parts of larger works) by different composers… continue reading »


To Sail, To Sing

Nat Bartsch Trio
Jazz
Self-release NBT001
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

‘What about the serenity?!’ Darryl Kerrigan’s enthusiasm for tranquility came to mind while I was listening to this disc. Pianist/leader Nat Bartsch drops notes of melody into the silence like drops of water onto the calm surface of a pond. Even when the rhythm turns rocky, as in the track called Let’s Go Little Dude,… continue reading »


Peter Sculthorpe – A Retrospective Collection of Some Favourite Sculthorpe Works

Various artists
Classical, New Music
Move MD 3378
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

This CD contains some favourite works of Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe who sadly left us in August 2014. Australia’s best-known composer, his music is renowned for drawing inspiration from the outback, the landscapes of Kakadu, indigenous music and language, and also from Asian music styles, in particular those of Indonesia and Japan. The well-selected pieces… continue reading »


For Emperor and Pope. Music for a Renaissance Court

The Song Company plus Tommie Andersson, lute
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 481 1091
Reviewed by , January 2nd, 2015

The extraordinary figure of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I lies behind part of the programme for the Song Company’s latest CD, For Emperor and Pope. One of the extraordinary cultural patrons of the Renaissance, among Maximilian’s less felicitous ideas was that of offering himself seriously as a candidate for the papacy. But his marriage… continue reading »


Not Music Yet by David Young

Zubin Kanga, piano
Classical, Experimental Music, New Music
Hospital Hill HHCD06140743
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

Imagine you had to play a piece of music that was not just a graphic score, but a watercolour painting. For many musicians, this would be a nightmare. For some audiences, the listening might be a challenge too. This CD is a recording of a particularly interesting and wonderful painted-score piece: David Young’s nicely titled… continue reading »


Semblances: Thomas Reiner Chamber Works

Jessica Aszodi, Kim Tan, Peter Dumsday, Tristram Williams, Silvia Tocchini, Luciano Tristaino, Francesco Gesualdi, Luigi Attademo, Gisbert Watty, Kenji Fujimura, Adrian Tosello, Luciano Tristaino, Gisbert Watty, Alessandra Gentile, Thomas Meyer, Teemu Myöhänen, Dorothea Eppendorf, Peter Sheridan, Kevin Schempf, CrossSound Sinfonietta, Stewart Emerson.
Classical, New Music
Ars Publica ARS141-018
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

‘A semblance’, the composer Thomas Reiner tells us in liner notes for this CD, ‘can be unsettling in that things are not what they seem to be, but semblances can also be alluring and appeal to our desires [. . . ]’. Reiner is a scholar and professor as well as a composer, and in… continue reading »


Suite SIMA

Mike Nock Octet
Jazz
FWM Records004
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

Sydney Improvised Music Association has fostered contemporary Australian jazz in that city for thirty years. Every member of the Mike Nock Octet has benefited from and taken part in the association’s activities. Although the individual horn players are each given an opportunity to contribute an improvisation, this is no ‘blowing album’. Each composition features a… continue reading »


Observations EP

Virtual Proximity
Electronic Music, Fusion
esc.rec.
http://escrec.bandcamp.com/album/observations-ep or http://www.virtual-proximity.com
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

Weaving layers of beats with processed field recordings and lustrous strands of loops, Observations EP – by Melbourne’s Virtual Proximity – is a shimmering sonic fabric. I wish this was a full-length album as the listening experience through the six tracks was one of being enfolded in a comforting electro-acoustic lullaby. In studio mode, Virtual… continue reading »


Truancy

Jim Denley and Cor Fuhler
Improvisation
Splitrec (Splitrec 24)
www.splitrec.com
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

Two of Sydney’s finest improvisers team up on Truancy. Cor Fuhler (piano and preparations) and Jim Denley (alto saxophone and preparations) have both performed throughout the world, collaborating with some of the top free improvisers in the field. This recording, made in Fuhler’s backyard, is comprised of two immersive soundscapes, Skive and Wag. The encounter… continue reading »


Destination People Street

Moth People
Contemporary, Indie, Jazz
Synergy Percussion
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

Artistic Director of Synergy Percussion, Timothy Constable, is the consummate musician, covering the spectrum of genres in his work as a percussionist and composer, from taiko drum extravaganzas, to classical interpretations and jazz. The ensemble’s latest venture seeks commissions for 40 composers to each create pieces lasting 40 seconds for a celebration of the group’s… 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 »


Shadows and Silhouettes: new piano compositions celebrating a Chinese-Western confluence

Antonietta Loffredo, piano
Classical, New Music
Wirrapang Wirr047
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

This unusual CD brings together recent works by eleven Australian and international composers under the banner of ‘Chinese-Western confluence’, performed by Italian pianist Antonietta Loffredo. This CD is genuinely fascinating on a number of levels, and includes several noteworthy pieces—but part of the fascination lies in the range of awkwardness and peculiarity in the varied… continue reading »


Copland: Appalachian Spring, Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Benjamin Northey, conductor, Emma Matthews, soprano
Classical
ABC Classics 481 0863
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

The twelve poems of Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) that Aaron Copland set to music in 1949-50 are quite extraordinary. Written in the first person, they speak directly and without artifice, resembling a personal diary, and one gets a very strong sense of the woman behind the words. She became a recluse in her thirties, maintaining friendships… continue reading »


Opal Dream

Howie Smith and Mike Nock
Jazz
Open Blue OBCD-1201
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

Saxophonist Howie Smith, who is based in Cleveland, Ohio, established the first university jazz studies program at the Sydney Conservatorium in 1973 on a Fulbright grant, and was Director of Jazz Studies there for three years as well as a member of Jazz Co/op with Roger Frampton, Phil Treloar and bassist Jack Thorncraft. He has… continue reading »


The Beethoven-Willems Collection. 36 piano sonatas, 5 piano concertos, Diabelli Variations, presented in chronological order. Stuart and Sons piano

Gerard Willems, piano, Sinfonia Australis cond. Antony Walker
Classical
14 CD plus 1 DVD box set. ABC Classics 481 0464
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

Gerard Willems’ has recorded all of Beethoven’s piano works on the Stuart and Sons piano. The recordings have been re-mastered and reordered for this 2014 re-release. They include all the Piano Sonatas, not omitting the Electoral Sonatas and Fantasia Sonata, five Piano Concertos with the Sinfonia Australis conducted by Antony Walker, the Diabelli Variations, C… continue reading »


Bach: The Cello Suites

Michael Goldschlager
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 476 4625 2CDs
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

The Cello Suites of J S Bach are probably the most well-known solo cello works in the repertoire, yet it is hard to know the composer’s true intentions because no manuscript in the composer’s hand exists. Any daring cellist is left with the choice of what information to accept from the more than eighty editions… continue reading »


Hear and Know

Mike Nock Trio Plus
Jazz
FWM Records (FWM002)
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

Hear and Know is a finely balanced and detailed record of the encounter between a master and four perceptive, thoughtful and highly skilled musical devotees. Sydney pianist Mick Nock’s regular trio with James and Ben Waples – on drums and double bass respectively – is here augmented by Karl Laskowski on tenor saxophone and Ken… continue reading »


The Good, the Bad and the Awkward

Sally Whitwell, piano, toy piano, recorder, melodica, harpsichord
Classical, Film Music, New Music
ABC Classics 476 4898
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

Albums of film-score music dished up for piano, played by classically trained musicians, can be tedious. Partly, this is because one sometimes senses that the performer (and/or their record company) is just using the hit-movie connection to sell CDs rather than out of a real love for, or commitment to the music. In addition, much… continue reading »


Vessel

The Kite String Tangle
Contemporary, Electronic Music
Warner Music 5419627362
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

The brave new world of electronic music is actually quite old now, first truly established in art music during the 1950s through the likes of Stockhausen; however it has been made accessible to the masses over the last few decades and spread its wings across the music style spectrum. Unbeknownst to many, Australian-based wunderkind, Michael… continue reading »


Words

Collider
Jazz
House of POW and Fatrain Music
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

This is music without category, yet undeniably music. I would love to hear this material performed live. Its deliberate literary references place it in the category of performance poetry equally with music – these are poems without words. But why concern ourselves with classification? Is it played well? Does it engender thoughts in the mind… continue reading »


Richard Strauss. Don Juan, Four last Songs, Also sprach Zarathustra

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis (conductor), Erin Wall (soprano)
Classical
ABC Classics 481 1122
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

This recent release from ABC Classics has the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in superb form playing Richard Strauss (Don Juan, Vier letzte Lieder, Also sprach Zarathustra) under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, its chief conductor. Strauss had consummate skill in writing for instruments in colourful, idiosyncratic ways and the recording is excellent, so we are… 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 »


Mozart: Violin Concertos 3 & 5, Sinfonia Concertante

Richard Tognetti, violin, Christopher Moore, viola, Australian Chamber Orchestra
Classical
BIS SACD 1754
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

This CD of two Mozart violin concertos and the Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola was released in 2010, but has only recently landed upon this reviewer’s desk. Does the world need another recording of Mozart concertos, one might wonder? As it turns out, the answer is emphatically yes in this case. This CD is… continue reading »


Sons Of No Guns For We Are Anomalous

Song Fwaa
Contemporary, Jazz, New Music
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

Song Fwaa is the name of a Sydney based art jazz, new music trio consisting of Martin Kay (alto saxophone), David Reaston (acoustic nylon 8-string guitar with effects) and Jamie Cameron (drums and cymbals). In their second album, Sons Of No Guns For We Are Anomalous, they continue to explore experimental composition techniques and the… continue reading »


Inferno: The piano music of Elliot Gyger

Michael Kieran Harvey
Classical, New Music
Move Records MD 3376
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

Inferno (2013) is the virtuosic amalgamation of two of Australia’s foremost musicians, composer Elliot Gyger and performer Michael Kieran Harvey, in an hour-long cycle for solo piano, arising from Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell. Powerfully expressive musical gestures within uncompromising structures create “Lisztean tableaux of virtuosity and damnation” in a language characteristic… continue reading »


Pilgrimage to Montserrat

The Renaissance Players, directed by Winsome Evans
Classical, Early Music
Tall Poppies TP 229 2CDs
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

Recording and performing for nearly fifty years, The Renaissance Players, conceived and led by the indefatigable Winsome Evans, has always combined research with scholarly-informed interpretation and a cheeky sense of fun in the creation of music with vigour and excitement. Indeed, every Renaissance Players performance is an event with a variable troupe of musicians, mimes,… continue reading »


Why Is There Something Instead of Nothing

Mike Majkowski
Improvisation
Bocian Records
https://sites.google.com/site/mikemajkowski/
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

Brought to life by Mike Majkowski, the double bass is a living, breathing organism that can morph from the size of an insect, all energy and restless movement, to a creature of cosmic proportions, vibrating in excess of time and space. Sydney-raised Majkowski has been making a name for himself in Berlin, the flourishing hub… continue reading »


Spring Sea Music of Dreams – Music for Shakuhachi and Harp

Riley Lee, shakuhachi, Marshall McGuire, harp
Classical, Japanese, New Music, World
ABC Classics 476 4870
Reviewed by , October 4th, 2014

Riley Lee and Marshall McGuire are masters of their instruments: Riley of the Japanese bamboo flute known as the shakuhachi and Marshall of the classical concert harp. At first glance a collaboration between these two instruments from vastly different musical traditions may seem like a brave experiment in cross-cultural music. But in the hands of… continue reading »


Visible Six and The Best of Visible

Post by , October 3rd, 2014

Bold statement: The only way folk or popular music has ever progressed or developed is through the impact of multicultural influences. Consider one of the primary and most far reaching examples: the impact of the slave trade that brought Africans to the Americas. Now, of course I’m not saying this was a positive experience for… continue reading »


Winanjjara – The Song Peoples’ Sessions

Warren H Williams and the Warumungu Songmen. Sung in Aboriginal languages
Contemporary, Indigenous Australian
2 CDs. ABC Music 279 6239
Reviewed by , October 3rd, 2014

Winanjjara means song man in the Northern Territory language of Warumungu. This double CD by Warren H Williams and the Waramungu Songmen is a major project that is part of an important Federal Government initiative known as The Song Peoples’ Sessions. The project has developed collaborations between traditional and contemporary Australian indigenous musicians to support… continue reading »


Concerto of the Greater Sea

Joseph Tawadros, oud, Australian Chamber Orchestra
Classical, Middle Eastern, New Music
ABC Classics 476 4745
Reviewed by , October 3rd, 2014

Joseph Tawadros is Australia’s leading exponent of the oud. For readers unfamiliar with this beautiful instrument it is a pear-shaped lute used traditionally in North African and Middle Eastern music. The oud and lute are descended from a common ancestor and are in turn the ancestors of the guitar. The enrichment of Australia’s culture and… continue reading »


Wilderness of Mirrors

Lawrence English
Electronic Music
ROOM40
http://room40.org/site/
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

Wavering in shadows between sonic light and dark, Wilderness of Mirrors evokes both growth and decay. Unfolding like a flower, its beauty reaches into transcendence, immersing and comforting the listener. At the same time, this unfolding is also the movement towards deterioration. Brisbane-based Lawrence English presents a finely crafted album that seems to emerge from… continue reading »


Haydn, String Quartets Op. 20 Nos 1, 3, 4

Tinalley String Quartet
Classical
Move Records MD 3374
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

A decade of life has seen the Tinalley String Quartet go from success to success, garnering international attention with a first-prize win at the Banff International String Quartet Competition. This new recording, canvassing half of the epochal Op. 20 quartets, makes a superb contribution to the discography of the Haydn string quartets, and marks another… continue reading »


Between the Keys

Ensemble Offspring
Classical, Experimental Music, New Music
Self-release
http://ensembleoffspring.com/releases/
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

The use of tuning systems other than the acoustically unnatural division of the octave into 12 equal parts, which has dominated the modern era (both in the classical and contemporary popular music fields), has long been an underground movement in experimental composition, although it is worth saying that in the renaissance and baroque music periods,… continue reading »


Peter Sculthorpe: Complete works for solo piano (2 CDs)

Tamara-Anna Cislowska, piano
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1181
www.abcclassics.com
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

With Peter Sculthorpe’s recent passing, we are reminded, with this release by one of his many champions, Tamara-Anna Cislowska, of a significant body of his life’s work. When one thinks of Peter’s compositional career, the orchestral works and string quartets stand out, so it is surprising to see so many works for piano: 33 in… continue reading »


China Wind: Robert Schubert plays the clarinet music of Julian Yu

Robert Schubert, clarinet, with various artists
Classical, New Music
Move Records MD3351
www.move.com.au
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

Julian Yu is one of Australia’s most illustrious composers, with an international reputation and a long list of awards to his name. This CD presents a selection of Yu’s music from several stages of his career, with the common thread being the clarinet, and more specifically, clarinettist Robert Schubert, a long-time champion of Yu’s music…. continue reading »


Dream Your Life Away

Vance Joy
Contemporary
Liberation LMCD0247
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

My first encounter with Vance Joy’s music was when I walked in on a school ukulele band rehearsal. The group was learning his single Riptide, an intoxicating and addictive song with a seeming innocence and wit, which on closer examination, explores darkness and vulnerability. Joy, a.k.a. James Keogh, is a Melbourne-based singer, songwriter and uke… continue reading »


The Messiaen Nexus

Elisabeth Sellars, violin, Kenji Fujimura, piano.
Classical, New Music
Move MD3369
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

The CD earns its name as Olivier Messiaen provides two pieces on the CD and was teacher of most of the other composers and a student of Paul Dukas. The performers Elizabeth Sellars and Kenji Fujimura are both faculty members at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University. The violin was prominent early… continue reading »


Colophony

Jon Rose, Meinrad Kneer, Richard Barrett
Experimental Music, Improvisation
Creative Sources Records CS229
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

This is a European collaboration of free improvisers by Australian violinist Jon Rose, who also plays tenor violin, with Meinrad Kneer, a German double bass player based in Amsterdam, and UK composer/improviser Richard Barrett. Barrett divides his time between London and Berlin, and is also a member of the Australian International Elision Ensemble, noted for… continue reading »


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 »


George Garzone, The Monash Sessions

Garzone, sax, with a number of student and faculty ensembles. Monash University Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music
Big Band, Jazz, Music
Jazzhead, HEAD166
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

Boston saxophonist and jazz educator George Garzone has visited Australia many times and when here would rehearse and workshop with Monash University music students. This in turn has led to a residency and mentorship at Monash University in 2011, a concert at Melbourne jazz club Bennetts Lane and finally this recording. There are four sessions:… continue reading »


Backblocks

Sam Bates, with Marc Hannaford, Philip Rex
Jazz
Newmarket NEW3334.2
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

This offering is issued under the name of Sam Bates, the composer of all seven compositions recorded. It is, however, the result of very equal participation by the members of a trio consisting of Bates on drums, Marc Hannaford on piano and Philip Rex on double bass. Explanatory text on the CD case is sparse… continue reading »


Pierrot

Felucca
Jazz
Jazzgroove Records (JGR063)
www.jazzgroove.com
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

For Felucca, contemporary music means synthesis. Pierrot, the debut album of the Sydney trio, is a confident statement of modern jazz. This is not the over-reaching jazz-fusion of decades past but an approach to song writing and improvisation that, despite replacing electric guitar and vocals with tenor saxophone, still places the rock before the jazz…. continue reading »


Wave Rider

Andrea Keller Quartet with Strings
Improvisation, Jazz, New Music
Jazzhead, Head191
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

Wave Rider could be the title of a seventies surfing movie, but in fact this album from Melbourne pianist Andrea Keller’s quartet with strings, is a beautiful hybrid of jazz, improvisation and composition. It is inspired by natural phenomena; waves in the forms of water, light and air. The strings are a second quartet. Erkki… continue reading »


The Classic 100: Baroque and Before

Many Australian and international soloists, ensembles and orchestras
Classical, Early Music
8-CD box set, ABC Classics 482 0818
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

How fascinating it is that a classical audience should choose Handel over Bach as favoured Baroque and Before composer with The Messiah which came first. Worthy? Perhaps, but Bach does not rate a mention until his St. Mathew’s Passion which comes in at number five. Here we are privy to just a five minute snippet… continue reading »


One

Claire Edwardes, solo percussion
Classical, New Music
Tall Poppies Records TP223
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

Claire Edwardes has had a stellar career as a solo percussionist of new classical music. This, her third solo CD release with Tall Poppies Records, presents repertoire for small collections of percussion instruments that will conveniently all “fit into a car”. Edwardes considers that when composers write for a solo percussionist and limit the number… continue reading »


Wear More Headbands

The Grid
Electronic Music, Jazz
listen/hear collective
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

The Grid has answered the question posed by the epochal American composer Frank Vincent Zappa on the cover of his 1984 live album: Does humor belong in music? Well, coupled with The Grid’s au courant virtuosity – yes. This trio comprised of Tim Jago, guitar, Dane Alderson, bass and Ben Vanderwal, drums, has released a… continue reading »


Monash Art Ensemble

Monash Art Ensemble and the Australian Art Orchestra
Big Band, Improvisation, Jazz, Music
JazzHead, Head171
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

The Monash Art Ensemble is the fruit of the collaboration between members of the Australian Art Orchestra and the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, playing the music of Paul Grabowsky. The composer’s liner notes describe the bringing together of two worlds of improvisation and notation. There are two works on the recording: Variations (d’un… continue reading »


Tokyo 1972

Teletopa
Improvisation
Splitrec 23
http://www.splitrec.com Download: http://www.subradar.no/album/teletopa/tokyo-1972
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

Shimmering, wailing, rippling, humming, crashing, twittering, welling, creaking, scratching, stuttering, resounding, and slipping into silence: this is the soundworld created by Teletopa on Tokyo 1972. A short-lived and now legendary free improvisation ensemble based in Sydney, Teletopa was comprised of Geoffrey Collins (flute), Peter Evans (percussion), David Ahern (violin) and Roger Frampton (saxophone). Each member… continue reading »


The Shepherd and the Mermaid. German Romantic Rarities for piano, voice and clarinet

Trio Kroma: Elena Xanthoudakis soprano, Jason Xanthoudakis clarinet, Clemens Leske piano
Classical
Move MCD 472
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

Elena Xanthoudakis (soprano), her brother Jason Xanthoudakis (clarinet) and Clemens Leske (piano) are the three outstanding musicians of Trio Kroma. They have produced this excellent disc of rarely performed Romantic pieces for soprano, clarinet and piano. I suspect the only work that most listeners would recognise is the Schubert late concert aria, Der Hirt auf… continue reading »


Butterfly Modernism: Chamber Music by Eve Duncan

Silo String Quartet, Speak Percussion, other artists
Classical, New Music
2 CDs, Move MD 3362
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

The third collection of chamber works of Eve Duncan, this double CD features works mostly written within the last ten years and demonstrating a new style of composition for the composer. Almost all of the works in the collection have at least one string instrument. Many of the works in the collection are performed by… continue reading »


Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out

Kristin Berardi, vocals, James Sherlock, guitar
Jazz
Self-release
www.kristinberardi.com and www.jamessherlock.com
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

The challenge for singer/guitar duos is to maintain sufficient rhythmic and textural interest in what is a pared back and vulnerable setting. Without bass and drums, it is hard for any guitarist to provide the whole package of accompanying with chords, providing a walking bass where needed, making melodic comments between vocal phrases and taking… continue reading »


Birdsong at Dusk

William Barton didgeridoo, with Kurilpa String Quartet, Delmae Barton vocals, John Rogers violin
Classical, Indigenous Australian, New Music
ABC Music 481 0962
http://williambarton.com.au/
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

William Barton is one of Australia’s leading didgeridoo players and has taken the wonders of this ancient instrument to the world. He regularly performs around the globe, and his album Kalkadungu won the 2012 ARIA Award for Best Classical Album. Musically, Barton grew up in both worlds having learned to play didgeridoo from his uncle,… continue reading »


Malcolm Williamson. The Complete Piano Concertos

Piers Lane piano, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Howard Shelley conductor
Classical, New Music
2 CDs, Hyperion CDA6801/2
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

Malcolm Benjamin Graham Christopher Williamson, CBE, AO, 1931-2003, composer of more than 250 works ranging from opera through to ballet, film and television scores, from symphonic, chamber and solo works to music for children to perform (he called them “Cassations”) was the only non-English and the youngest composer ever to be appointed to England’s most… continue reading »


Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring; Mahler, Symphony No 1

Australian World Orchestra, Zubin Mehta conductor
Classical
ABC Classics 481 0847
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

All too often, the idea of bringing the “best” together results in what runs close to unmitigated disaster as massive egos rush headlong into each other: any number of operatic performances in particular could be produced as evidence for that thesis. The idea behind the Australian World Orchestra, here captured in live performances from the… continue reading »


City Speaks

Callum g’Froerer and quintet
Jazz
Listen/Hear Collective
www.listenhearcollective.com
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

If the City Speaks, its dialect is cool, languid. Its time is the dark flow of the night. Often understated playing brings to life a unified set of harmonically rich compositions. Melbourne-based trumpet player Callum g’Froerer has assembled Andrew Brooks on alto saxophone, Brett Thompson on guitar, Alex Boneham on double bass and Hugh Harvey… continue reading »


Seraphim

Sara Macliver, soprano. Orchestra of the Antipodes, Brett Weymark conductor. West Australian Symphony Orchestra, conductor Benjamin Northey; other artists
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 476 4362
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

This ABD Classics portrait cd of Sara Macliver opens with Handel’s “Let the Bright Seraphim” (from Samson). The difficult coloratura is clear and the duet between voice and Leanne Sullivan’s fine trumpet playing is exciting. The close collaboration with Brett Weymark (conductor) and the Orchestra of the Antipodes has resulted in splendid phrasing and a… continue reading »


The Mango Balloon, Volume 3

Post by , August 1st, 2014

What a creative mind is that of guitarist-composer Julian Curwin. A stripped–back version of the group entitled The Tango Saloon, The Mango Balloon plays Curwin’s haunting pieces with disarming directness. The music is unpretentious, consisting of appealing melodies drifting over uncluttered accompaniments that are carefully crafted for each composition. There is no waste; economy of… continue reading »


Scattered Reflections

Lior
Adult Contemporary, Contemporary, Music
Independent SENSOCD333
For websites, see foot of review
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

Melbourne-based singer/songwriter Lior’s latest album, Scattered Reflections, is at its best when it explores human fragility and this is particularly potent when referencing those with whom he is the closest. The simple, unadorned lullaby, My Grandfather is a biographical song of the relationship between the two men. Watch the video at Lior’s website and I… continue reading »


Timeline

Craig Scott Quintet
Jazz
Rufus Records, RF091
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

Bass player Craig Scott has recorded and performed with all of the best known Australian jazz musicians including Don Burrows, George Golla, James Morrison and Judy Bailey. In the late seventies, his first band of note was the Keith Stirling Quintet. Stirling’s modernist tendencies earned him the nickname ‘Cosmic Keith’ and his quintet was in… continue reading »


Everything Here Is Possible

Alister Spence and Myra Melford, pianos
Improvisation
Self-release
www.alisterspence.com, www.myramelford.com
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

Everything Here Is Possible is a voyage into the shimmering musical unknown. In a set of five piano duets by Alister Spence (Sydney) and Myra Melford (New York), the exploration of different musical ideas and the creation of soundworlds is grounded in the clear impression of an exchange and transformation of improvisatory energy. This energy… continue reading »


Edward Elgar. The Dream of Gerontius. Cello Concerto

Vladimir Ashkenazy conducts Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Choir; Jian Wang cello, voice soloists Mark Tucker, Lilli Paasikivi, David Wilson-Johnson
Classical
ABC Classics 476 4297 2CDs
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

ABC Classic FM’s listener-polled favourites list, Classic 100-20th Century compiled in 2011, the year that this CD set was released, features five entries written by Edward Elgar, including the number one spot, confirming his enduring popularity. This CD set, another of the Sydney Symphony live series, features two of Elgar’s best known and loved works…. continue reading »


Brahms. Piano Concerto no. 1. Piano Concerto No. 2.

Garrick Ohlsson, piano, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tadaaki Otaka conductor
Classical
2 CDs, MSO Live, ABC Classics 481 0409
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

Wilhelm Backhaus recorded the Brahms piano concertos several times, his last go at the second when he was 84. When asked what the difference was from when he first recorded it in his thirties, he is reported to have said “It’s the same, only slower.” Technically he was as immaculate as ever. A tad extra… continue reading »


Permission to Evaporate

Joseph Tawadros, with Christian McBride, James Tawadros, Matt McMahon, Mike Stern
Jazz, Middle Eastern, World
ABC Music 481 0917
www.josephtawardros.com
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

Joseph Tawadros is prolific and adventurous. He is Australia’s leading exponent of the oud, a North African and Middle Eastern lute. He is also a trailblazer in cross-cultural music collaboration and a two-time ARIA Award winner for Best World Music Album. Permission To Evaporate was recorded in New York in just two days in February… continue reading »


Chopin Sonatas: Duo and Solo

Daniel Herscovitch, piano, Elizabeth Neville cello
Classical
Wirripang Wirr 048
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

Daniel Herscovitch’s programme notes are worth reading on their own. Scholarly, with just enough detail to make them a useful guide, they show the same thoughtfulness that characterises his playing. Musicology at its best. Of special interest on this recording is the Sonata for Cello and Piano, the composer’s final work, written for the then… continue reading »


Family Portraits

Andrea Keller
Classical, Jazz, New Music
Jazzhead HEAD188
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

In Family Portraits Andrea Keller, on piano, with Boss RC loop station, Line 6 delay pedal and preparations, presents a deeply personal collection of compositions. Keller’s ninth album as leader utilises loop and delay pedals to complement the piano, as well as preparations to the strings that emphasise the percussive quality of the instrument. In… continue reading »


Network of Lines

Tilman Robinson
Electronic Music, Jazz, New Music, Rock
Listen/Hear Collective
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

Network of Lines is a suite in ten parts, nine of them written and arranged by composer/trombone player Tilman Robinson. The tenth is an arrangement by Robinson of a piece by songwriter Sean O’Neill. There are no distinct beginnings or endings, each track slowly and effortlessly dissolves into the next. The music is played with… continue reading »


Composed Noise: New Works for Improvising String Quartet (2 discs)

Post by , July 1st, 2014

The Noise String Quartet began as an ensemble committed to improvising its own music. For this, its second CD, The Noise has commissioned seven composers to write pieces that involve both composed and indeterminate elements, including improvisation strategies. Like many commissioning entities The Noise has worked closely with these composers to bring their creative conceptions… continue reading »


The Sword and the Brush

Red Fish Blue
Jazz
Keynetic Records KR0022013
http://keyneticrecords.com/
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

With pianist Sam Keevers, acoustic bassist Brett Hirst, and two percussionists, Simon Barker on drum kit and Changgo drum, and Javier Fredes on congas, bata, darabuka, shakers and hand percussion, the second release from Red Fish Blue combines a laid-back Cuban impulse with controlled, often understated compositions. Keevers’ playing, which is measured, engaging, and often… continue reading »


Virtual Proximity

James Annesley / Virtual Proximity
Electronic Music, Jazz
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

Virtual Proximity is the debut album produced by Melbourne saxophonist James Annesley. It is jazz-electronica, slow to medium tempo darkly shaded beats and loops overlaid with post-Coltrane tenor and soprano saxophone improvisations. The project has developed into a live performing unit also known as Virtual Proximity since the original CD release, making the digital release… continue reading »


Purcell, Handel

Miriam Allan, soprano, with Ironwood
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 476 4997
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

Miriam Allan, born in Newcastle (Australia), has a fine soprano voice well suited to the music of the Baroque period. It is flexible, clear and excellently tuned. She has carved an impressive international career performing mainly works by Purcell, Handel, Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi and Monteverdi. This CD is with Ironwood, an ensemble of nine players,… continue reading »


Empires

Latitude 37. Julia Fredersdorff violin, Laura Vaughan viol and lirone, Donald Nicolson harpsichord and organ
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 481 0483
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

The second CD from this baroque trio, like their first self-titled CD, exposes an exciting concept to contextualise the practice of baroque music. It is conceived as a journey through the conflicted territories of the Holy Roman Empire of the late seventeenth century, centred in present-day Germany. With control of the bordering territories by the… continue reading »


All Imperfect Things: solo piano music of Michael Nyman

Sally Whitwell, piano
Classical, Film Music, New Music
ABC Classics 481 0412
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

I must admit that I was interested in reviewing this disc because of Michael Nyman’s sound-track for Jane Campion’s art film The Piano, where an otherwise fascinating creative piece was spoilt, at least for me, by this composer’s music. In other words, I wanted to discover whether other music by Nyman would prove to be… continue reading »


The Bitter Suite

Paul Grabowsky composer, performed by Paul Grabowsky Sextet
Jazz
ABC Jazz 377 1278
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

For me, the measure of a true muso is in the execution of the slow stuff. There are several pieces on The Bitter Suite which meet my required assessment criteria in this regard. For example on Black Saffron a beautiful passage focusses on the harmonic unification of trombone and saxophones. Jamie Oehlers introduces it after… continue reading »


Haveli

Post by , July 1st, 2014

An increasing number of Australian jazz musicians are seeking to move beyond the association with American jazz that was their inheritance, instead establishing a more distinctive local identity through collaborations with regional neighbours in the Asia-Pacific. The Australian Art Orchestra’s pioneering collaboration with Guru Kaaraikudi Mani’s Sruthi Laya Ensemble in 1996, and Simon Barker’s work… continue reading »


Mozart: Arias and Orchestral Music

Teddy Tahu Rhodes; Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Ola Rudner conductor
Classical
ABC Classics 476 5098
Reviewed by , June 8th, 2014

[This review compares two recordings by the Tasmanian Symphony: the Mozart: Arias and Orchestral Music and the recording Schubert: Symphony No. 8 ‘Unfinished’ and Incidental Music to Rosamunde — Selections,.] These two recordings present a superb opportunity to examine the work of a single orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony, over almost a decade in its life… continue reading »


Schubert: Symphony No. 8 ‘Unfinished’ and Incidental Music to Rosamunde — Selections

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Sebastian Lang-Lessing conductor
Classical
ABC Classics 476 4740
Reviewed by , June 8th, 2014

[John Weretka reviewed two recordings by the Tasmanian Symphony, this one and Mozart: Arias and Orchestral Music. The complete review, comparing performances by the orchestra ten years apart, can be found under the Mozart title. What follows here is the review of the later, Schubert recording.] Much more rewarding a listen is the more recent… continue reading »


Close Your Eyes and I’ll Close Mine

Anna McMichael, violin, Tamar-Anna Cislowska, piano
Classical, New Music
Tall Poppies TP228
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2014

  Lullaby. Such a lovely bit of onomatopoeia. I wonder if any of this collection have been road-tested on babies who won’t “go the f*** to sleep”. No words. Maybe the next step is to invite contributions with words. Surely the most effective soothers are those that are sung. Both highly regarded musical adventurers, Anna… continue reading »


Sign of Life

Strange Days on Earth
Contemporary, Electronic Music
Self-release online. Purchase from website.
http://www.strangedaysonearth.tv/shop/
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2014

Strange Days on Earth is a stage name adopted by singer-songwriter Andy Downer. On Sign of Life, Downer does all the singing and programming on what is essentially an electronic pop album, A few other musicians appear on several of the tracks and Grammy Award-winning engineer Bob Katz was contracted to do the mastering. Downer… continue reading »


Narratives and Detours: music by Australian composers

Jeanell Carrigan, piano
Classical, New Music
Australian Music Centre VAST031.2
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2014

  This disc presents music by ten Australian composers, six of whom I had heard; but there are so many young, emerging composers that it is sometimes hard to keep track. They illustrate widely divergent compositional styles; the longest offering is that of the disc’s title (11’43”); the others range from aphoristic utterances to more extended… continue reading »


The Seasons (Tchaikowsky)

Grigoryan Brothers
Classical
Which Way Music, Sing Sing Recording Studios, WWM 104
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2014

Here in the bottom half of the world we have to switch hemispheres to even start getting on song with Slava and Leonard Grigoryan as they play father Edward’s skilful arrangement of The Seasons, originally written for piano by Tchaikovsky. Twelve short, punchy pieces, one for each month, each with a little poem attached, track… continue reading »


Connect Four

Duets: Paul Williamson, trumpet with each of', Paul Grabowsky, Tony Gould, Andrea Keller, Marc Hannaford, pianists
Jazz
Jazzhead HEAD190
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2014

Over several centuries, the trumpet has developed a reputation as one of the most “macho” instruments in the orchestra. If brashness and aggression are called for, the trumpet is never too far from the frontline. In certain jazz circles, a trumpeter’s ability to play high and fast is considered exciting and impressive. For these kinds… continue reading »


Dirtsong

The Black Arm Band Company
Contemporary, Indigenous Australian
Self-release. Purchase via the website.
http://www.blackarmband.com.au/
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2014

The Black Arm Band is a vital part of Australia’s cultural identity.  They describe their work as music of the Australian Indigenous experience. It was formed by director Steven Richardson in 2005 and takes its name from the derogatory term that Prime Ministry John Howard used to denigrate attempts by some historians to recognise the… continue reading »


Antonín Dvořák Violin Concerto and Legends

Richard Tognetti, Nordic Chamber Orchestra, Christian Lindberg conductor
Classical, Music
BIS-CD-178
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2014

Dvořák was influenced by both people and places in his composing and in this, his famous Violin Concerto in A Minor, both musical heavyweights and his own Czech heritage help shape his composition. The Concerto took several years to reach fruition, not because of Dvořák’s tardiness, but rather because he awaited the suggestions and approval… continue reading »


Karaoke. The Usefulness of Art

Origami
Jazz
Fat Rain
Reviewed by , May 2nd, 2014

 Origami’s 2011 debut The Blues of Joy featured a collection of original compositions augmented by a covers of pop tunes by the likes of Snow Patrol and OutKast. Now this Melbourne-based trio is back and this time they have expanded on their formula by releasing two CDs simultaneously – one of original compositions and one… continue reading »


Sylvan Coda

Post by , May 2nd, 2014

Pianist Will Poskitt was an integral part of the Chris Hale Ensemble on three albums and countless gigs between 2001 and his death in 2008 at the tragically young age of 31. Sylvan Coda, Hale’s first release since Poskitt’s passing, is dedicated to his memory. Hale, who plays a six string semi-acoustic bass guitar, was… continue reading »


Far Flung

Alister Spence Trio
Jazz
Rufus Records RF105
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

Launched at the Sound lounge in Sydney in October 2012, Far Flung is a double album which continues the adventurous explorations of pianist Spence’s 2009 Fit, which I reviewed in an earlier Music Forum.  There is the addition of a midi controller and ‘music box’ which generates samples of recordings of the trio, consisting of… continue reading »


Hymnarium

Resonaxis
Contemporary, Rock
Indidem IND003
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

The second CD from this ambitious project combines cathedral organ and rock instrumentation built around the pure singing and songwriting of Brooke Shelley.  Combining her dual passions of renaissance polyphony and progressive rock, Shelley is joined on this CD by renowned organist David Drury, Matt Roberts on drums, Adam Bodkin on bass, and Richard Hundy… continue reading »


Ndakondwa (I’m Happy)

Post by , May 1st, 2014

Some years ago my family and I travelled to Tanna, a remote island in the Vanuatu archipelago and stayed in a village near Mount Yasur, the world’s most accessible active volcano. On the first night in our grass-hut accommodation a truck pulled up and the young men of the village converged to unload all the… continue reading »


Swailing

Julien Wilson Trio
Jazz
Lionsharecords LSR20142
www.julienwilson.com, www.lionsharecords.com
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

 In his 2009 book Jazz: The Australian Accent, John Shand describes the Julien Wilson trio, one of only three Melbourne-based musicians and bands to feature in the book, as follows: ‘[l]ike the Necks and Band of Five Names, the trio has found its own egalitarianism; its own way to let Wilson’s tenor saxophone, Stephen Grant’s… continue reading »


Clare Maclean: Osanna

Sydney Chamber Choir, Paul Stanhope conductor
A cappella, Choral Music, Classical, New Music
Tall Poppies TP218
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

The Sydney Chamber Choir, under Paul Stanhope’s direction, performs with precision and vitality on this disc of a cappella choral works composed by a former member – the New Zealand-born Clare Maclean. The major piece is her Osanna Mass (29:07) written specifically for the choir, and it is no surprise that it won her the… continue reading »


Real Feel

The Holidays
Contemporary, Pop, Techno
Liberation LMCD 0237
http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/news/38559/Track-by-track-The-Holidays-Real-Feel
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

After four years The Holidays, a Sydney-based indie-pop band, have released their second album, Real Feel. How does one describe the sound? It’s rich, harmonically warm, techno-infused, ethereal pop. But such a description does little justice to an album which explores such depth of feeling and complexity of timbres and issues. Indeed, what I cherish… continue reading »


King Of The Air. The Charles Kingsford Smith Musical

Music and lyrics by Gavin Lockley, book and lyrics by Ann Blainey. Cast principals, Daniel Belle, Renae Martin, David Hooley, Meredith O’Reilly, Philip Dodd, Yvonne Kenny AM, Simon Tedeschi, piano. The Metropolitan Orchestra, Sarah-Grace Williams conductor
Musical Theatre
Fish Fine Music
http://www.fishfinemusic.com.au/products/KOTA001.html
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

 It is not unusual for a musical to be recorded long before its appearance on a full stage. It’s a great way to test the waters of popular opinion, or to see if there’s anyone out there who is willing to sink money into the production costs. Chess is a case in point, existing as… continue reading »


Multi-Piano 1978-2012

Roger Dean
Electronic Music, Improvisation, New Music
Tall Poppies Records TP225 (2 discs) 2012
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

This retrospective of Roger Dean’s work as an improvising pianist covers samples of work created from 1978 to 2012 from a variety of sources including recording sessions, live performances, live performances using pre-recorded material and studio-based editing/remixing exercises. Dean employs a range of styles and approaches to the piano, by itself and combined with electronic… continue reading »


Asymmetry

Post by , May 1st, 2014

Going out on a limb, Karnivool is the best contemporary band in Australia. They are musically intelligent, exploring polyrhythms, independent harmonic layering, novel structures and chromatic melodic sequences. As drummer Steve Judd reminds us, toddlers can count to four. Possibilities beyond this are enticingly infinite. All facets of the band’s technique are masterful. They are… continue reading »


Just Enough

Tom Vincent Morphic Resonance Project
Jazz
Lumbini House
http://www.tomvincent.com.au/music
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

 Morphic is usually a word element (suffix) added to an adjective such as in ‘anthropomorphic’. As well, the term morph has assumed the function of a verb in contemporary usage, particularly to indicate some kind of radical change. I mention these well-known facts in order to convey a part of my thinking when I was… continue reading »


Mahler, Symphony No 2 in C minor ‘Resurrection’ – performances by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Markus Stenz conductor; Sydney Symphony, Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor
Classical
Melbourne Symphony on ABC Classics, ABC 476 5107; Sydney Symphony Live, SSO210203
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

What was, with the exception of the eighth symphony (the ‘Symphony of a Thousand), his most popular symphony during Mahler’s own lifetime is the subject of these two recordings. Both are live (although with well-behaved audiences!), the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s dating from 2004 and Sydney Symphony’s from 2012. The rather vexed history of the second… continue reading »


Lady Sings the Viol: 700 Years of Songs for Voice & Viols

The Marais Project, Jennifer Eriksson director
Classical, Contemporary, Early Music, New Music, Popular
MOVE MCD 481
Reviewed by , April 25th, 2014

Despite radical changes in composition processes in the last two hundred years and the introduction of electronic instruments and recording, Western orchestral instrumentation has changed relatively little. We accept it as normal to play musics from a very broad range of genre and period on our ‘modern’ orchestral instruments. However, ‘pre-modern’ instruments, such as those… continue reading »


Catch Me If You Can. Music for saxophone and orchestra

Amy Dickson alto saxophone, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Benjamin Northey conductor
Classical, New Music, Uncategorized
ABC Classics 481 0118
Reviewed by , April 25th, 2014

Every so often there are musicians who seem to have been born to play a particular instrument, and one of them is undoubtedly Amy Dickson. Here is a refreshingly different and fascinating disc, featuring a young saxophonist who has achieved admirable success here and overseas for her technical skill and fine musicality, three works which… continue reading »


Peggy Glanville-Hicks: Sappho – Opera in Three Acts, libretto from the play by Lawrence Durrell

Deborah Polaski, Martin Homrich, Scott MacAllister, Roman Trekel, Wolfgang Koch, John Tomlinson, Coro Gulbenkian, Orquestra Gulbenkian, Jennifer Condon conductor
Classical, New Music, Opera
Toccata Classics TOCC 0154-55 (2 CDs)
Reviewed by , April 25th, 2014

Much has already been written on the amazing story of the resurrection of this  previously unperformed opera of Australian/US composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks to the state of recording. A ten year Odyssey of single-minded determination, Jennifer Condon decided on bringing this work to the public after first hearing a performance of the final aria at age… continue reading »


F. Joseph Haydn: L’Anima del Filosofo: Orpheus + Eurydice

Elena Xanthoudakis, Andrew Goodwin, Derek Welton, Craig Everingham, Cantillation, Orchestra of the Antipodes, Antony Walker conductor
Classical, Early Music, Opera
Pinchgut Live PG001 (2 CDs)
Reviewed by , April 25th, 2014

This recording compiled from live performances of Haydn’s final opera is a revelation. The first CD produced by Pinchgut Opera under the label Pinchgut Live, the recording captures the energy of the performances without sacrificing quality, apart from a couple of moments of harshness on the recording of Elena Xanthoudakis’ voice. Following the death of… continue reading »


Rosin: 60th Anniversary Collection

Jon Rose
Music, New Music
ReR MEGACORP ReR JR11. Box set (3 audio CDs, a data disc and a booklet)
Reviewed by , April 25th, 2014

Jon Rose’s approach to music making can be simply characterised as in-your-face. His manic style of violin improvisation and his collage approach to musical texture often make his music confrontational. Despite the shock element there is also a strong conservative philosophy underlying much of Rose’s work. Most of the tracks on Disc 1 in this… continue reading »


Blue Rags

Ian Munro piano
Classical, New Music
Tall Poppies TP186
Reviewed by , April 25th, 2014

Any time one sees Ian Munro’s name on a concert poster or a CD cover, it’s worth it to take note and make an effort to listen. For over 15 year he has produced music of a wide variety and consistently high quality, and been a champion of Australian music. His latest CD continues this… continue reading »


Gustav Mahler — Symphony no. 9

Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor
Classical
2CDs, SSO 201201
Reviewed by , April 25th, 2014

When Vladimir Ashkenazy took creative control of the SSO in 2009, he set them on a Herculean task to perform and record all of Mahler’s symphonies. It was a risky procedure taken on in the hope of raising audience numbers and reversing negative cash flows. The ploy has proved to be successful on both scores…. continue reading »


William Barton. Kalkadungu – Music for Didjeridu and Orchestra

Sydney Symphony Orchestra cond. Richard Gill; Adelaide Symphony Orchestra cond. Arvo Volmer; Queensland Symphony Orchestra cond. Michael Christie. William Barton, didjeridu; Delmae Barton, voice.
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 476 4834
Reviewed by , April 24th, 2014

This is both a wonderful portrait of William Barton’s didjeridu playing and a beautiful collection of works written for and with didjeridu (as spelled in the CD booklet). The recording also demonstrates the dialectic of side-by-sidedness and integration in the case of Australian Indigenous music and contemporary Western art music. That is to say, the… continue reading »


Learning to Howl. Music by Andrew Ford

Jane Sheldon soprano, various artists
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 0188
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

The title piece of Andrew Ford’s bundle of songs for soprano and instruments in various combinations will strike chords (not sorry) for many of us who grew up on the piano, assumed that harmony and music were inseparable and found recorders, clarinet and violin, even the voice, weak and weedy and incomplete. Lorrie Moore’s text,… continue reading »


Daramad

Post by , April 1st, 2014

This beautifully presented CD explores a fusion of traditional Middle Eastern music, Eastern European music, Asian music and a soupcon (maybe a little more) of western jazz. Daramad are, let’s get this out of the way, musicians of skill and nuance. Western instruments such as the guitar and clarinet mix beautifully with ‘world’ instruments such… continue reading »


Prayer for Peace: Sacred Choral Music in the Modern Age

Cantillation, Anthony Walker conductor
A cappella, Choral Music, Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 476 5054
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Cantillation performs this fine selection of unaccompanied modern choral works under the baton of its founder, Anthony Walker, with one piece (Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium) conducted by Brett Weymark. The members of Cantillation are all professional singers and it has firmly established itself since 2001 as a leading Australian choir, with nine ABC Classics discs… continue reading »


Lost in the Stars

Allan Browne Trio, with Marc Hannaford, Sam Pankhurst
Jazz
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Not another Kurt Weill compilation, but ‘interpretations of the zodiac suites of Mary Lou Williams and Karlheinz Stockhausen’, this album features the prolific and ever-adventurous drummer Browne with a trimmed down ensemble of Marc Hannaford on piano and Sam Pankhurst on bass. The piano-bass-drums formula here sounds totally fresh and far-reaching, partly due to the… continue reading »


Missa Solis: Requiem for Eli. Music by Nigel Westlake

Liam Crisanti treble soloist, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Nigel Westlake conductor
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 476 5057
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

This disc presents a strong work marking a new creative step for one of our leading composers, a welcome addition to masses in the ‘classical’ tradition, and – perhaps most importantly – a profound expression of contrasted feelings of joy, celebration, and grief at the loss of the composer’s young son Eli, senselessly murdered in… continue reading »


Blue Silence: Complete Works for String Quartet by Elena Kats-Chernin

Acacia Quartet
Classical, New Music
Vexations 840 - 1202 (2 CDs)
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

An audacious project for a first CD for this new ensemble—to record the entire output for string quartet by the one contemporary Australian composer—but Elena Kats-Chernin has achieved public recognition in a way not seen by Australian composers since Peter Sculthorpe in the 1960s or John Antill in the 1950s. This recognition has been built… continue reading »


Dakshin Khun (Southern Man)

Post by , April 1st, 2014

This is one of the most evocative albums I’ve heard this year. The opening track, Altain Magdal evokes that area of Asia stretching from Nepal to China. It will be a challenging album for some: the vocals are Mongolian throat singing – a guttural, seemingly toneless sound, with a remarkable range. However, we hear a… continue reading »


Ngambala Wiji Li-Wunungu (Together We Are Strong). The Song Peoples Sessions

Shellie Morris and the Borroloola Songwomen
Contemporary, Indigenous Australian, World
2 CDs, box set with large booklet. Barkley Regional Arts www.barklyarts.com.au. Or ABC Music
www.barklyarts.com.au. http://songpeoples.tumblr.com/. Shellie’s website: http://www.shelliemorris.net/
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Last year I wrote a rapturous review of the Winanjjara double CD by Warren H Williams and the Warramungu Songmen. Ngambala Wiji Li-Wunungu (Together We Are Strong) by Shellie Morris and the Borroloola Songwomen is the second release of the culturally significant project knows as The Song Peoples Sessions. The project facilitates collaborations between traditional… continue reading »


Sarah Blasko. I Awake

Sarah Blasko, with orchestra
Contemporary
Dew Process/Universal Music DEW9000501
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Sarah Blasko. It’s the voice. You can wrap it in anything you like, or not at all. Some singers are singers. Blasko is a soul-smith. She reaches into the core of herself and picks out the seeds, slowly. It ain’t pretty, but it is beautiful. I Awake is a risky business. There are strings, lots… continue reading »


Weaver of Dreams

The Andrew Dickeson Quintet
Jazz
Rufus Records RF097
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

The drummer of this quintet is well known around the Sydney and wider jazz world, but this is his first release as a bandleader. He has assembled a group of very well-credentialed contemporary musicians including Roger Manins (tenor sax), Eamon McNelis (trumpet), Steve Barry (piano) and Alex Boneham (bass). The recording was done, with an… continue reading »


Bach, Brandenburg Concertos

Orchestra of the Antipodes, Antony Walker, conductor
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics 476 1923
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Although there seems to be no evidence that Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt paid much attention at all to the ‘Brandenburg’ concertos — he appears never to have organised for their performance, for example — great attention has been paid to them ever since their rediscovery in 1849. For generations of listeners, these concertos almost… continue reading »


d’aujourd’hui

Zoë Black violin, Daniel McKay guitar
Classical, New Music
Move Records MD3323
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

 It’s been a while since this CD was released.  Finally I’ve had a chance to listen to and review it. It was definitely worth the wait; this recording deserved much more attention back in 2008 than it seems to have received. Like every Move record I’ve had the chance to listen to, this is beautifully… continue reading »


Springs, for all the Winters

Nat Bartsch Trio
Jazz
Rufus Records RF110
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

When this CD was released in 2010, the Nat Bartsch Trio (NBT) consisted of the pianist (Bartsch), Josh Holt was the bassist and Leigh Fisher played drums. The music was very tastefully improvised. Taste and subtlety are paramount throughout, however at no stage does the music descend into ‘noodling’. There is an ever-present sense that… continue reading »


Carl Vine String Quartets

Goldner String Quartet
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 4765168
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

 Carl Vine probably does not consider himself a romantic composer, but in a definitively Australian contemporary way, he certainly is, traversing the gamut of emotions as he does, often in the one piece. The full palette of Vine’s technical prowess and emotional intensity is on show on this album, the works stunningly interpreted by the… continue reading »


Kinetic Conversations

Keith Humble (piano, electronic instruments), Bert Turetsky (contrabass)
Classical, Improvisation, Music, New Music
Move MD 3352
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Keith Humble (1927-1995) distinguished himself as a composer of concert and electro-acoustic music, as a brilliant interpreter of new music and as an educator. This collection of recordings with legendary American contrabassist, Bertram Turetsky, represents another side of Humble’s versatility, namely free improvisation.  Humble and Turetsky were colleagues in the music school at the University… continue reading »


Mysteries of Gregorian Chant

Singers of St Laurence, conducted by Neil McEwen
Classical, Early Music, Plainchant
ABC Classics 4765106
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Given its over two millennia long history, one might have imagined the liturgical chant of the Christian church to have been better recorded than it is. To be fair, recordings of plainchant are not exactly lacking, but the appearance of a recital-style disc almost completely dedicated to ‘Gregorian’ chant is a reasonably rare thing and… continue reading »


The Healer

Anton Delecca Quartet
Jazz, Music, Reviews
Jazzhead HEAD-192
http://www.antondeleccaquartet.com/
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

There is a point some artists reach in their careers where they have such mastery of the technical and expressive capabilities of their craft that their work seems effortless. When this happens with all players in an ensemble it is really quite special. This, the third album from Anton Delecca’s Quartet, The Healer, embodies this… continue reading »


Compassion

Lior, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Nigel Westlake composer and conductor
Classical, Contemporary, World
ABC Classics 4810678
www.rimshot.com.au, www.lior.com.au
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

There have been odd times with Nigel Westlake’s works where I have sensed that he has held his ‘soul-laid-bare’ card close to his chest. With Compassion, however, that card is on the table – in spades. Compassion is a series of seven melodies, all but one written with the Israeli-born Melbourne inhabitant Lior, whose body… continue reading »


Kopfüberwelle

Chris Abrahams, organ, Sabine Vogel, flute
Improvisation, Jazz
Absinth Records 024 limited edition
www.absinthrecords.com/
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Chris Abrahams is nothing if not versatile. Recently I was in Auckland, New Zealand, and happened to catch him in performance three times in a row. The first night was a sublime solo piano recital, which I wish had been recorded, consisting of two sets on a Yamaha in an art gallery in the depths… continue reading »


The Opening Statement

Post by , April 1st, 2014

This is the debut album of the Divergence Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece outfit that plays music by Jenna Cave who also conducts, as well as by other Australian composers such as Judy Bailey, Steve Newcomb and William Motzing. The album was produced via crowdfunding, an increasingly popular method of fund raising which involves individual contributors,… continue reading »


Emma Matthews. Mozart Arias

Post by , April 1st, 2014

There is a plethora of recordings of sopranos singing Mozart arias. It reflects his genius at composing music of unsurpassed beauty for this voice type, one which he so thoroughly understood and loved. Does this new one from Emma Matthews, the highly acclaimed coloratura soprano, offer something special? She performs nine Mozart arias with the… continue reading »


Psychosonata: original works by Michael Kieran Harvey

Michael Kieran Harvey, various artists
Classical, Fusion, New Music
Move MD3368
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Michael Kieran Harvey has had a stellar career as a virtuoso performer of new classical piano music. This CD release charts his more recent efforts as a “virtuoso composer”, with works from 2007 to 2013.  I’ve adopted this term because, like many a virtuoso performer turned composer, Harvey’s music often stretches the boundaries of performance… continue reading »


Such a Sky

Imogen Manins (cello), Tony Gould (piano), with Slava Grigoryan, David Jones, Riley Lee, Gian Slater, Eugene Ughetti
Arrangements, Improvisation
Move MD 3364
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Imogen Manins and Tony Gould are Melbourne-based performers who have assembled this album from recordings made from a series of concerts they gave in 2012. Two of the tracks are credited to Gould as a composer, but the remainder of the selection is drawn from classical and popular repertoire. The format is like the jazz… continue reading »


Yonder by The catholics

Yonder

The catholics
Jazz
Bugle Records BUG009, CD, digital
www.buglerecords.com/cv.html
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

The catholics (with a small c) are one of numerous other bands Lloyd Swanton plays in, here as bandleader, and couldn’t be more different from the sustained minimalist austerity of the Necks (see Open review). Formed in 1991, two years after the Necks released Sex, their lineup has been fairly steady since then, with Sandy… continue reading »


Yellow Sticker by Tal Cohen

Yellow Sticker

Tal Cohen
Jazz
Self release
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

The quartet on this recording consists of Tal Cohen (piano), Jamie Oehlers (tenor saxophone), Pete Jeavons (double bass) and Chris Tarr (drums). Since its release in 2011 it has received acclaim from reputable sources in the jazz community. Cohen has also distinguished himself as a young pianist whose services are much sought after. His set… continue reading »


Sweethearts by Sam Anning, Julien Wilson, Allan Browne Trio

Sweethearts

Sam Anning, Julien Wilson, Allan Browne Trio
Jazz
Listen!Hear Collective CD, digital
listenhearcollective.bandcamp.com/album/sweethearts
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

Reed player Julien Wilson, winner of the 2008 Australian Jazz Bell Award for Australian Jazz Artist of the Year and the 2006 Freedman Jazz Fellowship, has been an established figure on the Melbourne jazz scene for a couple of decades, and his numerous releases include two other CDs this year, This Is Always, a quartet… continue reading »


Sun, Cloud by Luke Howard

Sun, Cloud

Luke Howard
Classical, Jazz
Self-release. CD, vinyl or digital
www.lukehoward.com
Compositions by Howard. Performance by small orchestra, ensembles, soloists
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

In Melbourne they say if you don’t like the weather, just wait ten minutes. But on the 13/11/13 it rained and rained … and then some. Awaiting a grand entrance to the South-Eastern ‘Freeway’ I confronted an island of alert red tail lights. I slipped on Luke Howard’s Sun, Cloud seeking a different means of… continue reading »


Smile by The Idea of North

Smile

The Idea of North
A cappella, Jazz
ABC Records
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

James Morrison, in his liner notes to this album states, baldly and with good reason, ‘A cappella is different’. The Idea of North have been around for two decades (can it really be that long?), showing exactly how a cappella is different. A cappella needs a few elements to get it to work. You don’t… continue reading »


Open by The Necks

Open

The Necks
Jazz
Fish of Milk FOM0016
www.thenecks.com
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

In their 25th year of operation, the Necks seem to have reached a peak. A highly successful European tour, in which they sold out three nights at the Café Oto, one of the major London venues for experimental music, and several other venues as well, were invited to play a set with leading British saxophonist… continue reading »


In Black and White

In black and white

Tango Saloon (featuring Elana Stone)
Contemporary
Newmarket Music
www.thetangosaloon.com
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

This is a single: two songs. The Tango Saloon is an experimental tango group, which describe its work as ‘tango meets spaghetti western’ though, as it admits, it’s a bit more eclectic than that. The A-side (I guess – it’s a CD) is a dramatic tango, with Elana Stone’s vocals giving the right type of… continue reading »


Improvisations and Comprovisations

Improvisations and Comprovisations

Post by , March 2nd, 2014

Comprovisation (combining composition and improvisation) is an increasingly prominent feature of contemporary music, with exponents drawn from a range of backgrounds, including art music, jazz, and other commercial and contemporary music domains. Indeed, the act of comprovisation can offer a panacea for the strictures and structures of more formal musical pursuits, making it attractive to… continue reading »


Hymn to St Cecilia: A Celebration of Benjamin Britten

Hymn to St Cecilia: A Celebration of Benjamin Britten

Various Artists
Classical
ABC Classics 480 7301
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

2013 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), and as I began drafting this review, his mighty War Requiem was reverberating through the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. Whilst I would dearly have liked to have been there to experience the power of a live performance of this masterpiece,… continue reading »


Adventure Beyond by Starflight

Adventure Beyond

Starflight
Contemporary, Pop
Self-release, distributed by Mondo
www.starflightband.net
Reviewed by , March 2nd, 2014

This is an album of pure pop music joy. From its highly produced opening track – the uncharacteristic single Phasers on Stun, though to the album closer, Starship Take Me Home, the overwhelming emotion is the joy of making music. A vague science fiction feel bookends it, but the body of the album is very… continue reading »


John Dowland — Sorrow stay

Rosemary Hodgson lute, Justin Burwood, tenor
Classical, Early Music
ABC Classics, 476 4998
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

Every so often, a CD comes along that gets absolutely everything right.  Just such a CD is Rosemary Hodgson and Justin Burwood’s recital of lute songs and solos by John Dowland, a recording that meets surprisingly limited competition in the discography notwithstanding the crucial role Dowland plays in the history of late Renaissance s This… continue reading »


Erub Era Kodo Mer. Traditional and Contemporary Music and Dance from Erub (Darnley Island), Torres Strait. (CD/DVD)

People of Erub, Torres Strait Islands, Australia
Indigenous Australian, World
Torres Strait Regional Authority TSRA 005
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

This CD/DVD set is a collection of traditional Christian hymns, contemporary songs, contemporary Christian kores (choruses), love songs and childrens’ songs performed by the Erub people in the Torres Strait Islands. It opens with seven hymns sung in harmony in a mixture of the Meriam Mir and Erub Mir dialects of eastern Torres Strait, Torres… continue reading »


Stories of Ghosts

Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier
Contemporary, Rock
Intercorps/MGM, 2012
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

I conclude this review on the day that Australian female rock icon, Chrissy Amphlett died. There is a slight synchronicity – Deborah Conway, like Chrissy Amphlett, appeared and thrived in a male dominated industry, in no way kowtowing to sexist assumptions of what women in rock should be. Deborah Conway has carved out a unique… continue reading »


Astra 60. Piano works by Keith Humble, Helen Gifford, Margaret Boland, Tom Henry, Mark Pollard, Warren Burt and Lawrence Whiffin

Michael Kieran Harvey piano
Classical, New Music
Michael Kieran Harvey Collection. Move Records (MD 3357, 2012)
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

Melbourne’s Astra Chamber Music Society has for many years provided a cultural enclave for musical modernism, and this recording of Australian piano works is no different. All the compositions on this CD can be described as non-tonal or post-tonal, though some have fleeting moments of traditional Western harmony or even passages of free-tonal writing. Michael… continue reading »


Don Kay: Bird Chants

Vanessa Sharman piano
Classical, New Music
Tall Poppies TP210
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

This CD is a significant opportunity: to record a major portion of the output of one of Australia’s senior composers for solo piano. The works presented here cover the period from 1995 to 2008 and were written by Kay for some of the finest pianists in Australia. It is a major undertaking for Sharman, for… continue reading »


The Reef (DVD)

Australian Chamber Orchestra. Richard Tognetti, Jon Frank, Mick Sowry, Iain Grandage
Classical, Early Music, New Music
DVD ABC Classics 076 2850
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

Richard Tognetti’s introduction to The Reef captures his overall philosophy in the most beautiful way. He describes the magical experience of playing Bach and Beethoven in a small shed near where the desert ‘pours into the sea’ at Ningaloo Reef in north Western Australia. He hopes we will enjoy the coming together of the live… continue reading »


Memory Night

Chris Abrahams, piano
Improvisation, Jazz
Room 40 RM453
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

Chris Abrahams’ third solo recording on Brisbane-based Lawrence English’s Room 40 label is a radical departure from his previous piano-based releases on the label, Thrown and Play Scar, insofar as we are mid-way through the third of four tracks before we hear a piano with any clarity, and then it appears only briefly. Most of… continue reading »


Mozart. Piano Concertos No 25 (in C major No 25 KV 503), No 18 (in B flat major No 18 KV 456), No 23 (in A major No 23 KV 488), No 27 (in B flat major No 27 KV 595) .

Nos. 25 and 18: Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Howard Shelley soloist and conductor; no. 23: Simon Tedeschi piano, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Briger conductor; no27: Imogen Cooper piano, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti leader
Classical
ABC Classics 481 0192, ABC Classics 482 0191, ABC Classics 481 0189, ABC Classics 481 0190
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

Four mid- to late-career piano concertos of Mozart form the focus of attention for recent discs from ABC Classics. These recordings are at least three years old, with the oldest, the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s, thirteen years old. They seem to have been recorded live (although this does not appear to be mentioned anywhere) in front… continue reading »


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