Author Gwen Bennett

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

Mandala 3 – Music by David Lumsdaine and Nicola LeFanu

Artist/s: Gemini. Ian Mitchell (director), Sarah Leonard (soprano), Aleksander Szram (piano)
Category: Classical, New Music
Label: Métier MSV 28565
Reviewed by

“Australian composer David Lumsdaine has waited almost forty years for this, the first commercial recording of his acclaimed work Mandala 3; is he to be another composer whose talent will be appropriately recognised only after his death?”

Art Songs
War Letters. New music commemorating WWI

Artist/s: Halcyon: Alison Morgan, Jenny Duck-Chong, Clive Birch, James Wannan, Kaylie Dunstan, Jo Allan, Geoffrey Gartner
Category: Art Songs, Classical, Music, New Music
Label: Wirripang Media Pty Ltd Wirr 074
Reviewed by

“This music enhances and underlines the emotional impact of war in settings of letters written by people who experienced the actuality first hand, as relevant today as ever.”

Children's songs
The Birch Tree. Music based on Folktunes.

Artist/s: Throroughbass: Diana Weston (harpsichord), and Anna Fraser (soprano), Shaun Ng (viola da gamba), Joanne Arnott (recorder), Angus Ryan (cello)
Category: Children's songs, Classical, Folk, New Music
Label: Wirripang Wirr 068
Reviewed by

“The most unusual aspect of this CD is the rare sound of Béla Bartók’s piano music played on a harpsichord, sometimes with cello, and surrounded by contemporary Australian compositions.”

Songs by Diana Blom

Artist/s: Singers: Ayse Göknur Shanal, Emma Stacker, Lotte Latukefu, Kevin Hanrahan, Brett Weymark, Clive Birch. Pianists: David Wickham, Diana Blom
Category: Classical, New Music
Label: Wirripang Wirr 075
Reviewed by

The unpretentious title – Songs – gives no indication about the content of this CD which includes such things as the sensuousness of a tango lesson, or the naughty goings-on in dark corners of a library.

Pleasure Garden. Music by Jacob van Eyck, Genevieve Lacey and Jan Bang

Artist/s: Genevieve Lacey, recorders; Jan Bang, electronics
Category: Classical, Early Music, Electronic Music, New Music
Label: ABC Classics ABC 481 2370
Reviewed by

A stroll through this sensual garden of aural delights offers much pleasure, as the title promises. To combine music from the seventeenth century with twenty-first century electronics might seem somewhat incongruous, but it actually works well in the hands of…

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

Artist/s: Isabella A Cappella, The Flood Band
Category: Musical Theatre, Soundscape
Label: Wirripang Wirr 073
Reviewed by

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…

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

Artist/s: 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.
Category: Classical, New Music
Label: Wirripang Wirr 056
Reviewed by

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…

Awakening: Four Lives in Art

Author: Eileen Chanin, Steven Miller
Category: Biography, Books
Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2015. 229pp. Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 74305 365 2
Reviewed by

Four inspiring women, though not exactly household names today, are given some much-deserved attention in this engrossing publication. Dora Ohlfsen, Louise Dyer, Clarice Zander and Mary Cecil Allen, born in Australia in the second half of the nineteenth century, all…

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

Artist/s: The Song Company directed by Roland Peelman
Category: A cappella, Classical, New Music
Label: 2 CDs, self-release by The Song Company. Purchase copies from the web address below.
Reviewed by

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…

Waves I. Music by Elliott Gyger and Andrew Ford

Artist/s: Halcyon: Alison Morgan and Jenny Duck-Chong
Category: Classical, New Music
Label: Self-release
Reviewed by

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…

Grainger the Modernist

Author: Suzanne Robinson, Kay Dreyfus, editors
Category: Books, Musicology
Farnham, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2015 270pp
ISBN 9781472420220 (hardback) ISBN 9781472420237 (ebook- PDF) ISBN 9781472420244 (ebook-PUB)
Reviewed by

Should Percy Grainger be regarded as a modernist? Or should he be dismissed, as he has been in the past, as an inconsequential arranger of British folksong? Even a cursory scan of Grainger’s life reveals that he was an innovator…

The Gershwin Collection

Artist/s: Simon Tedeschi, with James Morrison, Sarah McKenzie, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Benjamin Northey
Category: Arrangements, Classical, Film Music, Musical Theatre, Popular
Label: 2 CDs - ABC Classics 481 1872
Reviewed by

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…

Choral Music
I Was Flying. Music by Sally Whitwell

Artist/s: Sally Whitwell, Alexandra Oomens, VOX, Acacia Quartet, Sally Walker, Kirsten Williams
Category: Choral Music, Classical, New Music
Label: ABC Classics 481 1704
Reviewed by

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…

Addicted to Bass. Seven Premiere Australian works for Bass Recorder

Artist/s: Alicia Crossley, with Joshua Hill, Anna Fraser, Vatche Jambazian, Victoria Jacono, Ben Carey
Category: Classical, New Music
Label: Self-release
Reviewed by

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…

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

Author: Mervyn E. Collins
Category: Biography, Books
Melbourne: Melbourne Books, 2014, 317pp.
ISBN 9781922129444 (pbk)
Reviewed by

Jazzman James Morrison was born with exceptional gifts which became evident from early childhood when he tried playing all the instruments his older brother brought home from school. He started playing in bands at the age of eight, first at…

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