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MP3 Various Artists - Winter Solstice

17 works by 5 Australian composers written in a wide range of styles and instrumentation: symphonic, solo piano, solo mandolin and quartet for violin, viola, cello & mandolin.

17 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Orchestral, CLASSICAL: Contemporary

Works by: Robert Allworth, Eric Gross, Betty Beath, Derek Strahan, Ann Carr-Boyd. DURATION: 75’44’

17 works by 5 Australian composers are heard on this CD, written in a wide range of styles, encompassing symphonic, solo piano, solo mandolin and quartet for violin, viola, cello & mandolin. Moods range from pieces inspired by natural scenery and by aboriginal culture, through to modernism and a clarinet concerto movement styled after swing masters Benny Goodman, Artie Shawand Woody Herman.. The ethereal cover picture is from a collection of photos taken by Derek Strahan during a visit to Central Australia in the Northern Territory. It shows various native trees silhouetted against sunset in the southern winter. (Similar arboreal photos are on the covers of Jade CD “Séance on a Wet Afternoon” JADCD 1107 and “Bradgate Park” JADCD 1109, both available at CD Baby, and on which more music by Australian composers can be heard.)

The opening title track, WINTER SOLSTICE was written by Robert Allworth in 2005 and refers to the shortest day of the year when time seems to stand still. In the Southern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice is usually on the 21st or 22nd of June, a time much liked by the composer. Written in 12-tone technique, the work opens with a chordal passage that returns after a contrapuntal middle section. The work is dedicated to pianist Ray Lemond who is heard on this recording.

Ray Lemond also plays other piano works by Allworth: on Tracks 3 & 4: the chorale-like ‘PRAELUDIUM” (2004) and the atmospheric ‘CLOUDY DAY’ (2005); and, on Tracks 14 to 17, ‘MOVEMENTS FOR PIANO’ (2005), music which inhabits the distilled sound world of Anton Webern, and is dedicated to Mary Olivieri, a friend of the composer.

On Tracks 8 to 10, SUITE FOR PIANO (2004) by Allworth is dedicated to the distinguished Australian pianist Sally Mays, who performs here. The style is impressionistic, and the titles of the three movements give further indication of the composer’s love of nature: Fading Light; Lengthening Shadows; Winter Mists.

Sally May also plays 2 works by Betty Beath. On Track 5, ‘DIDJERIDU’ (1991) is named after a distinctive aboriginal musical instrument and, on Track 6, ‘MERINDU BALI’ (2004) – which means “Bali yearning” – was written following an invitation from the Javanese pianist Ananda Skarlan who was inspired to give a series of “In memoriam” recital programs to commemorate the tragic bombings and events in Bali of October 12, 2002.

Ann Carr-Boyd performs her own nature piece for solo piano on Track 7, ‘SUMMER HAZE’ (1993) which was inspired by the lovely tropical garden of Betty Beath and her husband, David Cox.

Eric Gross contributes two works in which the mandolin is heard. On Track 2, ‘REVERIE FOR MICHAEL’ scored for mandolin, violin, viola & cello, is an adaptation made in 2005 of the slow movement of the composer’s Concerto da Camera (1977). It contains lyrical and melodic writing for mandolin and gentler passages for viola and cello. It is dedicated to virtuoso mandolinist Michael Hooper, who is heard in this recoding with Esther Chang, violin, Michael Tabrett, viola and Catherine Tabrett, cello.

Michael Hooper is also heard on Gross’s ‘TWO CADENZES FOR SOLO MANDOLIN’, on Tracks 12 & 13, a work which contains many contrasts of tempo, dynamics and rhythm and is intended to allow the player opportunities to display mastery of musicianship and performance technique.

Derek Strahan’s CLARINET CCONCERTO No. 1 – 3rd MOVEMENT is heard on Track 11. Strahan’s Clarinet Concerto No. 1 was commissioned by the Canberra School of Music for performance by Alan Vivian, who is soloist in this performance with the Australian National University School of Music Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Moore. It was premiered at the Llewellyn Hall on April 13 2002. The complete 35’00”work comprises1st Movt. (evincing urban angst), 2nd Movt. (in pastoral mode), and 3rd Movt., heard here. In this, three features of dance music are deployed: extended melodic line, “riff” figures, and sustained metric pulse – in this case a 12/8 jazz metre. This allows for accurately notated syncopation and for passages that evoke big band arrangements of the swing era, especially those written for clarinet masters Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Woody Herman. The style of these virtuosi is skilfully captured by soloist Alan Vivian. As the applause indicates, the audience reception was enthusiastic. Strahan hope this endorses his view that the synthesis of dance music elements within a contemporary symphonic structure is a direction which Australian composition can usefully embrace; since it can result in works which leave audiences feeling as rewarded as similar syntheses do in works of the baroque, classical and romantic eras. Grateful thanks to Alan Vivian and the Australian National University School of Music for supporting this work, in conception, composition and performance, and for permission to release this recording.

People who are interested in George Gershwin Claude Debussy Darius Milhaud should consider this download.
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