All posts by Michael Hannan

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 »

Babe: orchestral soundtrack. Composed by Nigel Westlake

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

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

Between the Keys

Ensemble Offspring
Classical, Experimental Music, New Music
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 »

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 »

Earth Dances: music in search of the primitive

Andrew Ford
Books, Music Criticism
Black Inc., Collingwood, Victoria, 2015. 242pp.
ISBN 9781863957120 (paperback)
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2015

Besides being a prominent composer and radio presenter, Andrew Ford has written nine books, many of which seem to be spin-offs of his work as a broadcaster. In this role Ford consumes a wide variety of contemporary musical styles and interacts personally with major figures in the world of music. Earth Dances consists principally of… 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 »

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 »

Keith Humble, Music and Me – Memories of a Shared Life

Jill Humble
Biography, Books
Healesville, Victoria: Fernmill Books, 2015 (121 pages). Available by emailing John Whiteoak, or writing to Fernmill Books PO Box 395, Healesville 3777
ISBN 978-0-646-93884-4
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

I had the honour in 1971 of organising and promoting the premiere performance of Keith Humble’s Nunique VI in the Great Hall of The University of Sydney. I spent three days prior to the performance working with Keith and his long-time collaborator, Jean-Charles François, to facilitate the spectacle. It had many contrasting elements including a… 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 »

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 »

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 »


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 »

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 »

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 »

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

Tamara-Anna Cislowska, piano
Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 1181
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 »

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 »

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 »

Roger Smalley: A Case Study of Late Twentieth-Century Composition

Christopher Mark
Books, Musicology
Farnham (Surrey): Ashgate, 2012, 272 pages
ISBN 9781409424116 (hbk) ISBN 9781409441991 (ebk)
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2014

This analytical study of the music of British-Australian composer, Roger Smalley (b. 1943), covers 25 works written between 1961 and 1996. From his English vantage point, the author, Christopher Mark, acknowledges that Smalley’s work is not well-known and hopes that the book will stimulate interest in a body of music that he believes “to be… 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 »

Sign of Life

Strange Days on Earth
Contemporary, Electronic Music
Self-release online. Purchase from website.
Reviewed by , June 1st, 2014

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

Such a Sky

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

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

The Music of David Lumsdaine: Kelly Ground to Cambewarra

Michael Hooper
Books, Musicology
Farnham (UK): Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2012, 232 pages
ISBN 978140-9428763 (hbk)
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

The subject of this book, David Lumsdaine (b. 1931), is an Australian modernist composer who established his career in the UK. Although Lumsdaine has lived in England more or less continuously since moving there in 1953, he has maintained a strong connection with Australia and is renowned for his soundscapes recorded in various Australian locations…. continue reading »

The Music of Place: Reclaiming a practice

Jon Rose
Books, Cultural Policy
Sydney: Currency House, May 2013, Platform Papers No 35
ISBN 978 0 987211446
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

This book is part of the Currency House’s Platform Papers, an ‘informed quarterly essay series seeking new directions’ in performance and media arts and associated arts industry practices. Jon Rose (b. 1951) is a composer, sound artist, improviser, violinist and instrument maker working in the experimental music tradition. He has recently been recognised with the… continue reading »

About Michael Hannan

Michael Hannan is a composer, performer and music researcher. He is the author of Peter Sculthorpe: His Music and Ideas (UQ Press, 1982), The Australian Guide to Careers in Music (MCA/UNSW Press, 2003) and The Music of Richard Meale (Wildbird, 2014). Hannan is an Adjunct Professor of Music at Southern Cross University.

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