Murwillumbah’s music man

Retrieved from http://www.tweeddailynews.com.au/news/murwillumbahs-music-man/2689152/

by Blainey Woodham | 3rd Jul 2015 12:00 AM – The Daily News

CONDUCTING, adjudicating, playing, writing and composing…

9-2850576-twe250615barry1_fct1018x764_ct620x465Barry Walmsley has almost done it all in the world of music.

So as adjudicator at the Murwillumbah Festival of Performing Arts, currently underway at the local civic centre, he is the ideal man to be giving advice to young musicians.

Barry’s love for music started at age seven when he began music lessons in Murwillumbah.

It would prove to be a love affair that would take him all over the world in roles as a music educator, lecturer, arts journalist, music critic, pianist, vocal coach, conductor, adjudicator and administrator.

After school, he attended the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney.

He has worked for Trinity College in London since 1990, one of Britain’s leading musical schools and has been awarded honorary membership to the college by its patron, the Duke of Kent.

Now back in his home town for a few weeks, he said a driving desire to teach others was the key to his success and that of his students.

“I love music and working with people because I believe passionately in the impact of education on people’s lives,” he said.

“In addition, I believe strongly that music education has so many benefits, cognitively and socially.”

Mr Walmsley said the talent on display at this year’s festival was higher than ever.

“Some performers are operating at very high levels, way beyond what might be normal for their age.

“That is very exciting to spot and the Tweed continues to punch above its weight, in terms of producing successful performers,” he added.

Elements: Simon Gleeson

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This debut album from musical theatre star, Simon Gleeson, will not leave anyone disappointed. Currently starring as Jean Valjean in the acclaimed new production of Cameron Mackintosh’s Les o_iP87-NMiserables, Gleeson shows that he is a world-class singer and actor. On this recording, he has assembled songs that are a personal testament, reflecting elements of his life, as well as his stage persona.

Composers and song-writers, such as Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers, Elton John, George Harrison, Billy Joel, Matt Alber, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, have been placed alongside each other, creating a strong selection of some of the greatest songs ever produced.

Gleeson has a voice that is beautifully rich and full of colour, from the highest notes in his range to the darker low register. In each song, he tells a story with clarity and ease. A Bit of Earth and End of the World sit easily alongside iconic show songs such as Anthem (Chess), Being Alive (Company), and Bring Him Home (Les Miserables).

(This review first appeared in Fine Music magazine, 2015.)

I Was Flying: Music by Sally Whitwell

ABC 481 1704

The piano music of Sally Whitwell will become even more accessible from this original recording. Many already know of this Sydney pianist from her recordings, particularly the music of Phillip Glass, as well as her performances with numerous ensembles and soloists. This disc, however, thrusts the individual personality of Ms Whitwell centre stage.

Sally Whitwell discIt is not only the playing that is assertive, engaging, spirited; the works also, themselves, have a great amount to say, mostly on a very personal level. The liner notes detail the pianist/composer’s approach to composition, her inspiration and her journey as a composer. It is written in a chatty discourse and draws the reader in, just as her music does.

Not all pieces are for piano solo, but feature other musicians. A Hundred Thousand Birds (from a poem by Christina Rossetti) features the singers from Vox (a vocal ensemble for skilled young singers aged 18-30). Starlight Steeple has some wonderfully exciting textural shifts and vocal effects, and is based on a poem from a recent collection by Monique Duval. A more poignant setting of another Rossetti poem is Echo, which highlights an expanded choral range and expressive demand with its extended phrases.

With text from her own pen, Whitwell ponders upon her own cultural heritage in To Your Shore, which is filled with hope and fear, in seeking a new life. The piano accompaniment is busy, with its little repetitive figures (almost like the ebb and flow of the ocean waves) whilst the vocal lines are more arching and beautifully sustained. The harmonic gestures used in the choral setting of Byron’s poem She Walks in Beauty has a simplicity, but also a restful quality which comes from the composer’s reflection of falling in love. Flying, is based on a 3-line poem by Australian poet, Michael Dransfield, who battled drug addiction. Whitwell gives wings to the text in this delicate setting for choir and piano.

Along with these 6 choral pieces, there are 7 songs for piano and soprano (with soloist Alexandra Oomens).

A slow moving vocal line is offset with a beautifully rolling piano accompaniment in Some World Far from Ours.

The Birds, a short song cycle with words by Rossetti (Skylark, Nightingale, Linnet) evokes beauty, sadness, hope and joy (as Whitwell states); these songs are truly poignant and yet at times, glorious.

The Yeats poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree gives Whitwell a rich lyric in which to express her longing for a sustainable eco-friendly life. She has created a mesmorising song, In the Deep Heart’s Core, in which there is a faint sense of her own heartbeat pulsing throughout.

Flatworm’s Heaven is a complete contrast, with its inspiration taken from city life frustrations, in particular, train travel (with text taken from The Train Now Standing by Michael Rosen). The incessant rhythmic piano lines almost collide with the text, and finally in a comic final phrase, alludes to the Sydney Trains 4-note announcement cue.

On hearing these songs, one gets the distinct impression that Whitwell craves for joy, and sharing that joy with others. In Warm Where Snowflakes Lie (with text by Rossetti), she allows the vocal line almost to calmly climb and recede, whilst the piano decorates and weaves around in an optimistic manner.

Loopy Lady is a set of 4 piano pieces (Reels, In the Middle, Waltzing Alone, Spin Out) which explores the frequently changing emotional states of teenagers. Musically, they exhibit rhythmic challenges, quirky shifts in style and mood, as well as a lyrical beauty in the slower sections, and some more robust moments.

Road Trip is actually a flute and piano solo (recorded here with flautist Sally Walker) that takes its inspiration from a weekly train commute for the composer from Sydney to Newcastle. There is constant movement throughout, other than a small flute solo, making this an exciting experience.

Whitwell describes The Insomnia Waltz (a piano and violin solo, recorded here with violinist Kirsten Williams) as a “frustratingly meandering stopstart of a piece”. The fragments of thematic ideas capture the mind of an insomniac, as they grapple with disrupted sleep and thoughts.

Winter Love (a piano quintet) was written specially for the Arcacia Ensemble (String quartet), and Whitwell here displays a fine grasp of dealing with the different timbres and textural contrasts that she so ably produces. It is especially appealing, both melodically and rhythmically.

Whitwell is a remarkable composer and pianist of her generation, with an adroit hand at writing for solo piano, chamber ensembles, vocalists, and choirs. She infuses her own personality into everything she writes and performs, making for some striking musical experiences.

Poor Parenting Skills

How entitled children are making their parents’ lives hell

Cosima Marriner and Rachel Browne
Published: January 3, 2016 – 11:17AM

“She terrorises us.” That’s how bad it is for Steve Richardson* and his wife when their 17-year-old daughter is at home.

Olivia has dropped out of school and goes missing for days at a time. She’s smoking pot and has been arrested for shoplifting. Tensions quickly escalate when she does return to the family home in Sydney’s north west.

Like when she lost her iPhone recently. “She was screaming at me to buy her a new one,” Richardson says. “It couldn’t just be any phone. It had to be the newest, most expensive iPhone.

“When I said ‘the phone is your responsibility’, she started abusing me, screaming at me and smashing her bedroom. She said, ‘I’m going to destroy the house, I’m going to kill myself’.”

Her father called the police.

Richardson is one of a growing number of parents under siege from their children.

The pointy end of entitlement

Sons are smashing windows, furious they’re asked to stop playing computer games. Doors are hanging off hinges having been slammed so hard in a fit of pique. Teenagers are holding knives to their mother’s throat, or threatening to kill themselves.

This is the pointy end of entitlement, the defining characteristic of this generation of children.

“It’s the end result of giving kids everything they want,” psychologist Judith Locke explains. “Tough love is really being called for, but we’ve got a generation of parents who are much less inclined to do this.”

Eager to deliver the perfect childhood, parents are emotionally and materially indulging their children. Boundaries are rarely enforced and consequences aren’t imposed by parents who want to be their child’s friend. Kids who grow up expecting attention and success are so accustomed to getting what they want that they don’t know how to cope when they don’t.

Richardson blames himself for spoiling his daughter. “She has always been given everything she wanted.”

Unable to tell anyone what’s going on at home, he and his wife have travelled to the eastern suburbs to attend a meeting of Toughlove​, a confidential parent support group.

His story resonates with other parents there. “I would always buy my daughter whatever she wanted because I thought that would make her happy,” says Janet Burchfield*, a blonde woman in her 40s. “Now she hits me if she doesn’t get what she wants. Today she told me she was never going to speak to me again because I never get her what she wants. I can’t win.”

Path of less resistance

Parenting experts say the trend towards smaller families has upped the ante on parenting with the goal of maximising the outcomes for each child. But often working parents are so time poor that they will take the path of less resistance.

“Sometimes parents haven’t got the time to have that fight with the kids so we just give in,” parent educator Michael Grose says. “Often we don’t delegate to the child, or allow them to do it themselves, because it’s easier and quicker to do it ourselves.”

No parent likes seeing their child upset but psychologists believe we’re going overboard in our quest to please our kids. “It’s well-intentioned but extreme responsiveness to the child, which can actually stop their resilience,” Locke says.

Schools report that kids are now so conditioned to receiving a ribbon just for showing up at the sports carnival that they overreact when things don’t go their way.

“We are very quick to gratify our students,” admits Australian Primary Principals Association president Dennis Yarrington. “This notion of putting in effort, working hard, having delayed gratification, is something I see young people today struggle with.”

Growing up with the Internet and social media hasn’t helped. Anything kids want, from pizza to porn, can be satisfied 24/7 via the Internet. Social media breeds narcissism by making kids the stars of their own lives on Facebook, Instagram​ and YouTube. Having a newsfeed​ full of what their peers are getting and doing dials up the desire to have the same.

Saying no a matter of choice

Yet kids rarely have to go without. With most families now dual income, saying no to a child’s latest whim is a matter of choice, not because parents actually don’t have the money to buy the new iPhone 6 or PS4.

“Because we can give them so much, kids now see it as their right rather than a privilege,” Grose says. “We forget that with rights come responsibilities.”

The never-ending requirement for more peaks at this time of year. “Kids tend to focus more on the number of presents and their expectations on the present being exactly what they have asked for, they don’t experience the joy and gratefulness of receiving one item,” psychologist Michelle Pritchard observes.

Pritchard stresses that entitlement is a normal part of kids’ development, which strikes with the egocentrism of the toddler, and then the boundary-pushing of the 15 – 18-year-old teenager. “But when that entitled expectation is reinforced with no boundaries, it can become really unhealthy and negative,” she says.

Some parents are compensating for their own childhood, indulging their children the way they feel they weren’t.

Others are making enormous sacrifices for their kids. They might be working long hours or piling up the debt. They’re turning themselves inside out to organise their schedules around dance, swimming, piano and Mandarin lessons, or funding overseas trips for their kids which they themselves won’t be able to afford in retirement.

“Often children remain on the parents’ payroll a lot longer when they’re brought up like that,” Locke says. She wonders what this will mean for parents in their old age. Will children who are so used to being lovingly tended to – and funded – well into their 30s be able to adjust to the role-reversal and take care of their parents when the time comes?

Mental health issues predicted

Kids who grow up insulated from difficulty and disappointment are also likely to struggle in adulthood if they don’t get into their first preference for uni, miss out on a job, or are dumped by the love of their life.

“Because they haven’t really developed resilience, they emerge a lot weaker from tough experiences,” Locke warns. She predicts mental health issues will emerge in this generation as they mature.

In a bid to clamp down on entitlement, principals are encouraging parents and teachers to emphasise the concept of personal best.

“It’s learning that if you have done your best, if you have done whatever you can to achieve the best result, that’s what’s important. Not whether you came first or last,” Yarrington explains.

Schools are adopting the KidsGive program, where children use crowdfunding to raise money for the cause of their choice. “You counteract the age of entitlement with the age of giving,” Yarrington says. “Kids learn that sometimes it is more about others than myself.”

*Names have been changed

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/she-terrorises-us-how-entitled-children-are-making-their-parents-lives-hell-20151218-glqtl0.html

Fine Music to Air New HSC Program

(This article first appeared in the January 2016 edition of Fine Music magazine.)

In a new initiative by Fine Music, students, teachers and listeners will have the opportunity to hear and learn about the latest in Australian music.

With Jason Noble at the helm, listeners will discover concepts have their aural diet expanded, as new music is explored from both the performers’ and composers’ perspective.

Jason NobleDesigned to add to the study of the HSC Senior Music topic, Music of the Last 25 Years, the programmes will assist young audiences, their teachers, and hopefully will find some new converts in older generations as well.

“I see the development of this radio programme as being a valuable resource for music teachers and students, as well as the general public. As a performer specialising in modern repertoire and as a teacher of my instrument, I still find it difficult to direct students in the right direction when it comes to selecting a piece to perform for the compulsory core topic as set by the NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES),” said broadcaster, Jason Noble.

In league with key players in the area of new music, Noble has had the benefit of the Australian Music Centre.

“The AMC does a great job collating potential material for students and their teachers, but sometimes sifting through the vast repertoire can be time consuming, “ Noble said.

The initial broadcasts in February will be an introductory series. Fine Music will present an hour length program each on wind and brass, strings, piano, and percussion. Programmes will feature discussions with composers, HSC markers, and teachers.

Later in the year (Term 4), we will work towards a half hour show on each instrument, with about 6 to 8 works featured.

A series like this will excite all those listeners who believe in life long learning. The opportunity to hear new music, and find meaning will be paramount for the success of the series.

As senior Music student from across the state know, the compulsory core topic for the HSC subject, Music 2, is Music of the Last 25 years, and thus will form the main focus of this project. Works chosen for broadcast must have been composed in the last 25years by an Australian composer. The focus is therefore on solo and duo works. Students selecting the Music 1 course could also find some interesting pieces to select should they choose the Australian Music elective, or even the other topic – An Instrument and its Repertoire. There should be works presented to cater for a range of student abilities.

Making this programme digital will give access to those who live in the country too. Many teachers will admit that they tend to fall back on the same tried and tested pieces, but there is so much more music out there virtually undiscovered.

Jason Noble, a bass clarinetist, believes that our music tells us much about the diversity of Australia.

“The listener doesn’t have to enjoy every piece; they are short enough to get a good cross-section of what is going on with Australian composition, while listening to some of Australia’s finest performers. We need to keep supporting new ways of making music, while reflecting on the great legacy of Western Art Music,” said Noble.

Some of the more established composers, such as Ross Edwards, Elena Kats-Chernin will be heard alongside lesser-known ones. Variety is the common theme, and an attempt to get students to become aware that there is an abundance of new works written for their instrument will be a prime objective.

Whilst many students focus heavily on their performances skills, there is also an important part for composition in the study of HSC Music.

“I think there is naturally some co-relation with the composition elective, in that students will be able to hear a lot of Australian works, which could influence their own composition skills. A teacher could easily use the programme to focus on compositional techniques in a couple of the works after purchasing a score. Most scores will be available from the Australian Music Centre, or websites of the composers. In the future, we may be able to extend the program to do a feature on successful HSC compositions. I think this would be really interesting, as there is some great work and teaching being done,” Noble said.

Being a performing musician, Noble is keen to link in with the many organisations with which he already works.

“As a member of Ensemble Offspring, I have lots of links with composers and performers specialising in this new music,” said Noble.

Ensemble Offspring and the Acacia Quartet, along with pianist Sally Whitwell, worked alongside Richard Gill and Karen Carey earlier this year for a successful HSC composition workshop at Santa Sabina. The waters were tested here, with about 100 students and their teachers attending. There is certainly a hungry audience for this new music.

Noble believes that there is need for more access to events like these, to show students that they are not working alone, and to inspire each other to improve their performing and compositional skills.

“The advantage of this radio programme is really that students across the state can access the show without leaving their home. It is great as it will provide equal access for everyone,” Noble said.

Simon Tedeschi: The Gershwin Collection

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Now that Simon Tedeschi has released two recordings separately for ABC Classics (Gershwin & Me; Gershwin – Take Two), this box set (both CDs) has been released. Tedeschi, who clearly has a great affinity with the music of George Gershwin, describes the style as a combination of “Russian melancholy, Cuban rhythms, African American blues language, all gulped down with a Manhattan gusto”.

Simon Tedeschi The Gershwin CollectionRialto Ripples Rag leaves no-one in the dark. It grabs you with its strongly articulated accents and robust playing, a hallmark that permeates the entire recording. Three Preludes was one attempt by the composer to make his mark in the classical arena. Strangely, this was a lifelong quest of Gershwin’s. In the mid-1920s, staying in Paris for a short period, Gershwin applied to study composition with the noted Nadia Boulanger who, along with several other prospective tutors such as Maurice Ravel, rejected him. She was afraid that rigorous classical study would ruin his jazz-influenced style.

Tedeschi chooses some of the finest arrangements to include here; Keith Jarrett’s arrangement of Someone to Watch Over Me, which is so seductive, and then there’s Percy Grainger’s take on Love Walked in and The Man I Love, showing Grainger’s sensitivity as pianist arranger.

Three pieces (with arrangements by the composer), ‘S Wonderful, Oh, Lady Be Good!, and Strike Up the Band, were all written for different purposes, one a popular stand-alone song, one for a musical and one for film, showing the diversity that was the composer’s music-making style.

The tenderness of Dave Grusin’s arrangement of Nice Work If You Can Get It, comes from a period in which this prolific American celebrated through his arrangements the work of Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Henry Mancini and Leonard Bernstein.

On this recording, however, you are not left just hearing Tedeschi as a fine (jazz) pianist and exponent of Gershwin, but also as an arranger, giving breath to his own Summertime, and I Loves You, Porgy, with hugely improvisatory flair.

Of course, no disc of Gershwin’s piano music could be complete without one of the landmark pieces in American music, Rhapsody in Blue. In January 1924, Gershwin reportedly learned from a newspaper article that he was meant to be writing a ‘jazz concerto’ for a programme of new American music to be given by the popular dance band leader Paul Whiteman a month later. Writing at manic pace, Gershwin composed a two piano version, which was then orchestrated by Whiteman’s arranger, Ferde Grofé. The composer, himself, was the solo pianist at its premiere.

On both Tedeschi recordings are versions of this work. A live recording with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Benjamin Northey) – using the Grofé orchestration, brings to life all the colours of New York City, from the underground subways, to the hustle and bustle of the sidewalk, and the streets conjested with cabs. It is manic, verging on the breathless, and at times sleazy, and even majestic. The second version included here is the piano solo version, which is equally engaging for its muscular drive.

The second CD, Gershwin Take Two, has many more pieces that perhaps are less known these days. Solo piano music features such as Promenade, Prelude (Novelette in Fourths), Prelude (Rubato), Merry Andrew, Three-Quarter Blues, Impromptu in Two Keys, as well as extracts or arrangements from shows.

Tedeschi also invites guest musicians to collaborate with him in some tracks, such as Nice Work If You Can Get It, with trumpeter James Morrison, which also shows Tedeschi’s own skill in jazz improvisation at the piano. A very dreamy Prelude (Melody No 17) sees the trumpet and piano duo explore the lyrical and harmonic gestures in this “song without words”. ARIA award winning singer, Sarah McKenzie appears, singing a sultry Embraceable You (from Girl Crazy), which contrasts with her alluring Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off (from Shall We Dance).

Other tunes from shows are Sweet and Low-Down (from Tip-Toes), Do-Do-Do, Clap Yo’ Hands (both from Oh, Kay!), Jazzbo Brown Blues (from Porgy and Bess), Liza (from Show Girl), My One and Only (from Funny Face), I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise (from George White’s Scandals of 1922), Do It Again (from The French Doll), Nobody But You (from La-La-Lucille), Who Cares? (from Of Thee I Sing), most of which had lyrics written by Ira Gershwin (George’s brother). The forgotten lyricists here are Gus Kahn, Buddy DeSylva and Arthur Jackson.

Gershwin is one of those composers whose life was cut short too early (from a brain tumour), and one whose music sweeps you up in a rapturous experience of sheer joy.

In Simon Tedeschi we have a world-class pianist, who, probably more than any other recent musician, has placed the music of George Gershwin on a plane equal with his own musical understanding and virtuosic playing, as well as his honest performance regarding the intentions of the composer. Tedeschi’s innate sense of the style marks him out as an authentic exponent; it is as close to channeling the great composer-pianist as it could be.

In the words of the legendary harmonic virtuoso Larry Adler who worked with Gershwin himself (and with whom Tedeschi has also worked): “I just wish Gershwin were here… Simon is one of the finest exponents of his music I have ever seen.”

Cello Dreams

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The great American cellist once said, “The cello is the most perfect instrument aside from the human voice”. That perhaps explains why arias and other songs lend themselves to cello transcription so well, such as Handel’s arias Lascia ch’io piana (from Rinaldo), Par che mi nasca in seno (from Tamerlano) and Sondheim’s Goodbye for Now, as well as the folk song, I Will Give My Love an Apple.

Cello DreamsOn this double CD compilation set, there are 27 tracks of exquisite cello solos played by some of Australia’s most outstanding cellists. Dreamy is the mood of the music selections, and as a consequence the chosen repertoire is slow in speed. The cover photograph of a cello lying down (as if a person) in a grassy field is also suggestive that the music will be contemplative.

The majority of tracks are played by two cellists, Sally Maer (9 pieces), and Li-Wei Qin (5 pieces), whilst others feature Janis Laurs, Louise King, Michael Goldschlager, Julian Thompson, Suzanne Wijsman, Noeleen Wright, Daniel Yeardon, Anthea Cottee, Fenelia Gill, and Jamie Hey.

The accompanying forces should not be diminished in any way simply because this is a disc of solo cello music. The Melbourne & Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, Sinfonia Australis, and Australian Brandenburg Orchestra are put alongside piano accompanists and chamber musicians, including Anna Goldsworthy, Mark Kruger, Sally Whitwell, Genevieve Lang, Janice Preece, Catherine Strutt, Genevieve Lacey, Neal Peres Da Costa, Paul Dyer, and Michael Brimer.

As well as the expected inclusions, such as The Swan (Saint-Saens), Cello Concertos movements (Vivaldi, Haydn, Dvorak & Elgar), Cello Suites (Bach), Variations on a Rococo Theme, and Pezzo capriccioso (Tchaikovsky), Sonata movements (Boismortier, Saint-Saens), Cantilena from Bachianas brasileiras No 5 (Villa-Lobos), Winter (Largo) from The Four Seasons (Vivaldi), Sinfonia (Arioso) from Cantata BWV 156 (Bach), there are lesser-known pieces such as Promenade a l’automne (Tournier), an arrangement of the traditional Scottish, Unst Bridal March, Sicilienne (Paradis), Adagio (Zipoli), and the refreshingly new in Spiegel im Spiegel (Part).

This is a most beautiful recording, with truly delightful music, played with warmth, passion and at times charming simplicity.

The Celtic Songbook

ABC Classics 481 1981

Music of the Celts has always had a huge following, and this disc of 18 songs will find a large audience. Timeless melodies from Ireland, Scotland and Wales are performed by some of the leading musicians in Australia currently.

The Celtic SongbookSingers David Hobson, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Sarah Calderwood, Annalisa Kerrigan, Paul McMahon, Timothy Reynolds, Nollaig Casey, and Craig Newman, are accompanied by orchestras (Tasmanian Symphony, Australian Brandenburg, Melbourne Symphony and Sinfonia Australis), chamber or folk groups (Sunas, Carisma), as well as choirs (Cantillation, Brandenburg Choir, Choir of Trinity College – University of Melbourne).

There is a plethora of instrumentalists recorded here from Genevieve Lacey (recorder), James Crabb (classical accordion), Genevieve Lang & Mary Dourmany (harps), Paul Jarman, Lynnelle Moran (tin whistles), to Chris Duncan (fiddle), who all help in giving the arrangements an authenticity.

Those interested in Celtic music, or folk music in general, will love the selections: The Mountains of Mourne, Wild Mountain Thyme, As He Moved Through the Fair, Suo Gan, Do You Love an Apple?, Loch Lomond, My Lagan Love, The Cliffs of Dooneen, Bovaglie’s Plaid, The Last Rose of Summer, Danny Boy, All Through the Night and Fhir an Bhata.

The vocal and instrumental artistry shines through in every track. There is a genuine affinity that comes across with each performance. This is one of the best collections of Celtic music on offer. It does fall into that category of relaxation and evocative music, with its abundance of melancholic and sometimes haunting ballads, slow instrumental passages, and lack of energetic gigs. But, it is reflective music, which is so perfect for the soul.

From Broadway to La Scala

Greta Bradman, David Hobson, Lisa McCune, Teddy Tahu Rhodes
ABC 482 3700

Audiences applaud such compilations when four well-known (“popular”) singers are brought together, and a national tour is mounted, making the release of a disc of arias, duets and ensembles, an assured top-seller.

From Broadway to La ScalaMusical theatre selections are from The Sound of Music, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, West Side Story, South Pacific, Oklahoma and Carousel. From opera, we hear excerpts from The Barber of Seville, The Pearl Fishers, Carmen, and The Elixir of Love.

Best by far is the aria Largo Al Factotum, from The Barber of Seville with the splendidly grand and rich voice of Teddy Tahu Rhodes. As well, his Toreador’s Song from Carmen is another expose of fine vocal artistry.

He joins the lighter tenor voice of David Hobson in the wondrous Act 1 duet Au Fond Du Temple Saint, from The Pearl Fishers, in which the vocal ensemble is very satisfying.

Rossini’s Una Voce Poco Fa displays the widely acclaimed new voice on the operatic stage, Greta Bradman with all her richness in the low register and an ease and lightness in the upper realms. It is easy to see why Maestro Richard Bonynge, who in this recording conducts the English Chamber Orchestra, is championing Ms Bradman.

Lisa McCune gives so much joy in My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music. It is a sheer delight, as is her solo from Oklahoma, Oh What a Beautiful Morning.

The finest ensemble piece is You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel, even with these unequal voices at times. Individually, these voices have their own uniqueness and capacity to enthrall listeners, and I have no doubt that in concert or stage production, their performances would be enticing.

The harmonic setting of the duet, The Music of the Night, was somewhat odd, making one question why it was added at all. This is by far not the greatest rendition of this well-known song from musical theatre.

A similar curiosity arose with the opening track Hallelujah, an unusual take on this classic pop song by Leonard Cohen. Its first two verses were strangely conceived, but it settled and built effectively in McCune’s verse, and whilst Rhodes’s verse was good in itself, it was poorly mixed with the other voices. How does Cohen’s Hallelujah fit the Broadway to La Scala theme? A: Only with a stretch of the imagination.

Similarly, the inclusion of Nella Fantasia (a version of Gabriel’s Oboe with words) from the film, The Mission, seems again at odds, however, David Hobson’s solo here is perhaps his best, accompanied by the stunning voices of Cantillation.

A variety of orchestras (English Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Australis, but primarily the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra) gave this quartet of singers an authentic backdrop to enhance their performances further.

Droplets: 60 minutes – 60 pieces

ABC 481 1871

For those who have short attention spans, or as that perfect gift, this compilation album of pieces will engage every listener with its selection of music from every period, every instrumental combination, along with some choruses and vocal items.

Droplets CDNot only does the CD rip along at an almighty pace from Buxtehude to Gershwin, but it must delight radio broadcasters who scurry to find that mini track of music to fill a rare moment.

ABC Classic FM presenter, Guy Noble is thrilled with the release of this album.

“As a radio presenter, I have been searching for a CD like this for years, music by composers that bridges that awkward gap between the end of the Beethoven symphony you have just played and the imminent arrival of the Majestic Fanfare of the ABC News theme. You have thanked your producer and talked at length about what is coming up after the news, but there is still a minute of airtime to go. In the real world a minute passes by with ease, but in the world of radio it opens up like a giant ice crevasse in the Antarctic. You scrabble through discs to find a track short enough to fit the hole, but everything is too long. You know that if music is still playing as the second hand on the clock ticks from 59 to zero, it will be guillotined by the ruthless computer studio switch as cleanly as the head of Marie Antoinette.

“Now finally a CD that presents a delicious selection of minute-sized morsels of music that fill that pesky space…. (It is) a musical slide show of place and time,” said Noble.

There is Purcell, Beethoven, Handel, Orff, Warlock, Elgar, Goossens, Britten, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Granados, Schubert, Chopin, and Grainger amongst the selected composers.

But don’t count on Mahler, as there is none. His compositions never took less than an hour. No Wagner. And curiously Chopin’s Minute Waltz doesn’t feature. Why? Well, it lasts for one and a half minutes!

This is a great easy listening classical album. For the studio teacher, it would be a great end of year student gift, or even studio prize.