Sounds of the Soul

Lian Husi Klamar: The Traditional Music of East Timor

Ros Dunlop

Published by Tekee Media, 2012

$59.95

The first book to emerge concerning the music of the newest nation in the world, East Timor, is a rich resource, bursting at the seams with glorious photographs, paintings, songs and diagrams. Collated and written by classically-trained clarinetist, Ros Dunlop, from many journeys to the north, it is a work filled with passion and love for the people and culture of East Timor. As well, it shows that there is much to discover from our northern neighbours.

The book is written in English, but also has a translation into Tetun, sitting alongside.

The book is neither an academic textbook, nor coffee table pictorial, but rather an accessible and highly informative resource, which will be appealing to a vast range of people and professions. Not just musicians, but students, teachers, historians, and many others will find it useful and informative.

Dunlop opens the world of the East Timorese to the West through her discussion of family life, indigenous culture, its music, dance, ritual and daily life.

Throughout its pages, readers can access more of the sounds and visuals of subject matter via accompanying DVD and CDs, included in the jacket of the book. These are enormously helpful to bring to life such concepts, and would be an invaluable aid to any teacher of Music of Another Culture.

Dunlop details the various occupations and influences on the East Timorese, and shows the reader the resilience of its people to retain and continue to develop its rich heritage, one which has been passed down aurally from generation to generation.

For the teacher, there is a reproducible book of black line drawings and instrument pictures, complete with easy to understand descriptions. This is an excellent addition to what is a visual feast from the main book, its CD and DVD. The illustrations are by Timorese artists, Tony Amaral and Pelle Pereira.

Dunlop’s is a work of great depth, adding significantly to the knowledge of this new nation. It is a discovery for any teacher or reader interested in our surrounding indigenous cultures. The colourful and detailed information is easily digested for every student who wishes to enlarge their world view and musical understanding.

Cello Romance

ABC 476 5162

Anthologies of famous cello music abound, but this latest 2CD release from ABC Classics deserves to be heard. It is a compilation of recordings made mostly by Australians, including Janis Laurs, Li-Wei Qin, Sally Maer, Louise King, Michael Goldschlager, Julian Thompson, Suzanne Wijsman, Noeleen Wright, Daniel Yeardon, Anthea Cottee, Fenella Gill and Jamie Hey.

Along with the usual and equally spendid performances of movements from Bach’s Cello Suites and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, as well as movements from the very famous concertos by Vivaldi, Dvorak and Elgar, and well known pieces by Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens, there is much that will interest all kinds of listeners, from cello students and teachers right through to the man or woman in the street.

The apparent simplicity of the Adagio movement from Haydn’s Cello Concert in C is quite delightful with its lyrically shaped phrases. The pizzicato accompaniment to the legato melody in Villa-Lobos’s Cantilena from Bachianas Brasileiras No 5 adds to the Latin American flavour.

The tranquil mood of Spiegel im Spiegel (or “mirror in the mirror”) by Avro Part allows the listener into a rare space of solitude where an infinite number of images can collide. The playing here by Sally Maer and Sally Whitwell (on piano) is most moving.

As well as the standard cello repertoire, there are transcriptions of arias and songs (Handel’s Lascia ch’io pianga from Rinaldo, and Par che mi nasca in seno from Tamerlano, Sondheim’s Goodbye for Now, and the Ionian song, I Will Give My Love an Apple).

Large scale accompaniments are provided by various orchestras (Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, Sinfonia Australis, and Australian Brandenburg Orchestra) on some tracks, but also a diverse range of other accompaniment forms, including piano, harp, harpsichord and chamber settings, thus giving a range of tonal combinations.

Whilst there are sonata movements by de Boismortier and Saint-Saens, it is perhaps in the lesser known works (von Paradis and Zipoli, for example) or transcriptions where this disc actually offers something more.

As a compilation album, covering a smorgasbord of repertoire over a 400 year period, it is well worth having in one’s collection.

La Compania: Ay Portugal

ABC 476 4955

As the times of the 15th and 16th centuries had been an era of great discovery, like so the emergence of music drawn from this period, is a real discovery as well. Interest in early music performance practice has been passionately embraced throughout the world, with Australia firmly placed at the forefront of these discoveries.

Many musicians have travelled and studied widely to build their knowledge and skills to develop further interest in the music of this time.

La Compania formed in 1997 to perform such music of the Renaissance and Early Baroque. Directed by Danny Lucin, the ensemble brings together some of Australia’s leading specialists on period instruments, including cornetto, sackbuts, dulcian, shawm, viola da gamba, lute and a variety of percussion instruments.

The ensemble comprises Danny Lucin, Mitchell Crosee, Brock Imison, Julian Bain, Glenn Bardwell, Victoria Watts, Rosemary Hodgson, Denis Close and Christine Baker. In addition, Siobhan Stagg appears as the guest soprano soloist on this disc.

The music is a rich tapestry of social thought, religion (as seen with the Counter-Reformation as its backdrop), politics, war and everyday life, woven by a wide variety of instrumental and vocal music (some with simple syllabic treatments, and others, dance).

Whilst the composers (Fernandes, Machado, de Cristo, Guerrero, de Milan, and de Escobar) may be less familiar to many, all are worth exploring.

Some of the common compositional techniques to be noted in the music on this recording are the use of verse and chorus and ternary form structures, homophonic texture, changing metres from triple to duple, syncopation and hemiola, improvisation, ornamentation and dance elements. All these ideas are easily identifiable, and useful for teaching students (either in the studio or classroom).

The short pieces presented here (some of which have been taken directly from rare manuscripts) are delights to the ear, and are small tastes of a delectable and almost forgotten musical culture.

The scholarly work behind the performances, coupled with the impressive performances, and interesting tonal colours makes this discovery most worthwhile.

Konstantin Shamray in Recital

ABC 476 4954 

The Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia (SIPCA) attracts some of the finest young pianists from all over the world, and has established for some, careers beyond the competition stage.

A favourite performer and winner of the 2008 competition has been Russian pianist, Konstantin Shamray (taking five other prizes, including the People’s Choice Prize).

Shamray has performed in Moscow and many other Russian cities, as well as in Italy, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Serbia, Austria, Czech Republic, USA, Singapore and China. He has gone on to perform throughout Australia as a soloist and concerto artist.

Of course, competitions can be graveyards for some contestants, and even winners. But the assured production and release of a recording, ensures longevity of, at least, the major prize winners in the minds of Australian listeners.

As part of winning the competition, the ABC commits to releasing a recording of music, and whilst this recording is entitled “In Recital”, it actually is a studio recording (without audience).

The clarity of sound, strength and subtlety of tone, beauty of the instrument and the artistic understanding of Shamray make this CD a must have for the piano enthusiast, teacher or student. His playing is commanding and rich with passion in the Piano Sonata in G (Tchaikovsky), Piano Sonata No 8 (Prokofiev) and selected Scriabin works (Fantasie Op 28, Album Leaf Op 58, Fragility Op 51, Nuances from Four Pieces Op 56).

The recording gives added kudos to the competition, which will next be seen in Sydney in 2016.