Artist/s: Andrew Seymour (clarinet), Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra cond. Greg Stephens. Jabra Latham - emerging Tasmanian composer.
Category: Classical, New Music
Label: Digital EP only, ABC 0028948553655
Reviewed by Alex Raineri
A 2020 ABC Classic release, Antarctic Triptych is a clarinet concerto by composer Jabra Latham featuring Andrew Seymour as clarinet soloist with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Greg Stephens. The work was commissioned in response to a particularly chilly Tasmanian winter in 2015. The music sonically evokes images of the beautifully monstrous ice-scapes of the Antarctic continent.
Movement one, ‘Ice cliffs and plains’, emerges from a place of stillness. A softly chanting wash of string sound lays a bed of resonance for Seymour’s solo clarinet to melodically emerge in a lyrical counterpoint with the gently rocking accompaniment. The music unfurls in a gorgeous and beautifully organic manner. The harmonies blossom, embodying a musical trajectory that captures the vast enormity and stunning beauty of the Antarctic landscape. At its zenith, the intensity of the music breaks away into more playful figures, bringing the movement to a close. Seymour and the TSO execute the pace of the slow build in a captivating manner, beautifully poised and gradated to perfection, taking the listener on the gripping journey through this music.
‘Katabasis’ (a term often used in relation to Greek mythology, referring to a descent) is the title of movement two. Clarinet multiphonic trills draw the listener into a curious listening space. An earthly ritualistic rhythmic ostinato emerges, perhaps depicting a severe chilly wind blowing across the icy plains. This is strikingly powerful music that speaks with a clarity of expression, beautifully performed with a nuanced timbral tapestry ranging from gritty to robust.
The final movement, ‘Hut’, is playful and wholesome. It felt to me more of a depiction of humanistic friendship rather than of landscape. A gorgeous finale to this wonderful yet brief concerto, an excellent addition to the repertoire of Australian clarinet repertoire.
I wholeheartedly recommend Antarctic Triptych as a wonderful listening experience that is gripping, wholesome, moving, tender, and expertly executed by Andrew Seymour and the TSO under the baton of Greg Stephens.
VIEW AND LISTEN
Third movement: ’Hut’
Andrew Seymour commissioned this solo from Jabra Latham