Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Zealand Composer Edition - Chamber Works Vols. 1 & 2 (1972)

Starting off this set, the first track of Vol. 1 is my man John Rimmer, carrying the electroacoustic torch on his 'Composition 2 for Wind Quintet and Electronic Sounds'. When the first quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle barges in from the antique analogues, the cleverly clunky clash belies an eventual merging, which becomes so subtle that I'm sure even the players aren't sure who's making which sound.

David Farquhar is so restlessly inventive, and relentlessly inviting. He skims along the outer guard, never fully abandoning tunefulness. From the liner notes: "Although he does not appear to have been involved to a great extent with electronic music, ... David Farquhar [is] the most versatile of the composers represented on this record..." Here he experiments with a bit of extended technique on the 'Three Pieces' on Vol. 1, and has written new settings of traditional Scots ballads for voice and piano on Vol. 2 (see below, "Lilburn").

Jack Body's 'Turtle Time' is a dramatic, breathless, electroacoustic freak-o-delic mindblower.

'Capriccio for Four Saxophones' by Robert Burch carries a bit of the spirit of New York's Lounge Lizards in parts, and reminds us -- no matter that this is a contemporary classical work -- the history of Jazz is inseparable from the tuning, timbre and physical structure of the saxophone.

Lilburn. My enjoyment of much classical music stalls when it comes to vocal works involving the mannered, affected, clenched-throated warbling of classically trained -- usually male -- soloists. Listening head-tilted, trying hard, with a forced grin, to Lilburn's settings of three poems by JK Baxter, RAK Mason, and Ursula Bethell, my philistine ears can at least hold on to some exciting string-work. Mercifully, on Vol. 2, piano-champ Margaret Nielsen plays on both the extraordinary and deservedly recognisable Sonata for Violin and Piano, and the equally gorgeous Sonatina 2 for Piano.

And First He Played the Notes of Annoy

And Then He Played the Notes of Joy

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