Classical

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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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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