“FADING LIGHT” JADCD 1104
WORKS BY: ROBERT ALLWORTH, ANDREWROBBIE, ERIC GROSS, ANN CARR-BOYD, DEREK STRAHAN.
Solo piano works of secular and sacred inspiration by 3 Australian composers showcase pianist John Martin’s virtuoso performances on the new Australian grand piano designed and manufactured by Stuart & Sons.
Also heard are works for manolin ensemble by 2 other composers and a Midi realization of a flute & guitar work depicting a mutant entity.
TRACK 1. ROBERT ALLWORTH (b. 1943) - CORAL REEF (2004)
CORAL REEF was completed in May 2004. The music suggests the moonlight on coral reefs in North Queensland. The work is in five movements.
Movement I - poco lento
Movement II - piu mosso
Movement III- meno mosso
Movement IV – sereno
Movement V - meno mosso
The music in the five movements is generally in Sonata Form and displays in some sections antiphonal effects. The work was written at the request of Adrian Hooper who directs the Sydney Mandolins in the performance on this recording. R.A.
TRACK 2. ANDREW ROBBIE (b. 1979) OF THEIR OWN LOVELINESS (2001) Sometimes I become fond of a particular material or process that contributes, along with many others, to the fabric of one of my more complex pieces. Similarly, sometimes a fragment of pre-existing music strikes me as worth more attention than it would receive in my often-dense layering of quotations and other materials. These special artefacts sometimes engender satellite pieces; usually shorter, more static works in which whatever found object is given an environment where it can proliferate. Perhaps these pieces are like exhibits - carefully made display cabinets for little treasures - but in place of the austerity of the displays of natural history museums, their encasements are made of many mirrors and copies which both magnifying and obscure. This piece takes the plucked harmonics of a mandolin quartet, such as those that appeared briefly at the end of my ‘FIELDS OF GOLDEN HAY', and a quotation from the final movement of Alf red Schnittke’s Piano Quintet. In both sources, the chosen materials represented a transcendent closure; in ‘ Fields’ the harmonics colour the return of the opening choral, in Schnittke's piece, the piano ostinato is a vision of eternal paradise for his recently deceased mother. While harmonics are all pervasive in this quartet, the ostinato quote is recalled only gradually; by the time it appears in full, it is lost in the light of its own refractions. The gentle decadence of this bright light recalled for me these lines of Oscar Wilde:
'... where half afraid
Of their own loveliness some violets lie
That will not look the gold sun in the face
For fear of too much splendour'
which themselves recall Lord Byron, here suddenly at war:
'Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which, but an hour ago,
Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness.'
TRACK 3. ROBERT ALLWORTH - FADING LIGHT (2004)
FADING LIGHT as the title suggests, is an atmospheric mood piece depicting the light at the end of the day and the associated feelings of reminiscence at the closure of the day. FADING LIGHT exists in three versions - one for string quartet, another for string orchestra and the version on this recording for piano solo. R.A.
TRACK 4. ANN CARR-BOYD (b. 1938) - PERPETUAL MOTION (1992)
This work was composed at the request of Australian pianist Sally Mays. It is an adaptation for solo piano of part of a larger work for organ titled THE BELLS OF SYDNEY HARBOUR, which was composed 25 years ago for the grand organ in the Sydney Opera House and performed there again by Warwick Dunham in September 2004 in celebratory concerts for the 25th birthday of this magnificent instrument. The piano piece incorporates the main theme, which appears in imitation; the irregular rhythms represent the movement of waves and, to quote from recent program notes for Bells: '…the final section - PERPETUAL MOTION reflects the ongoing spirit of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney cultural life '
It is published in the Currency Press piano series, volume 3. A.C.B.
TRACK 5. ANN CARR-BOYD - BLUES IN ORANGE (1994)
Like the previous work on this disc, BLUES IN ORANGE is adapted for solo piano from another composition, where it formed a movement of the SUITE IN ORANGE, premiered in the New South Wales city of Orange in 1994 by Anne Stevens, flute; John Gould, viola, and Ann Hosking-Parr, double bass. The double bass is associated readily both classical and jazz music and in this case it is the jazz mood of the double bass which is predominant, and is carried over in the piano piece with its 'blues’ chords, slow swing rhythm and prominent role given to the bass notes. Published by Grevillea Press. A.C.B.
TRACK 6. ANN CARR-BOYD - PRELUDE (1987)
PRELUDE was commissioned by the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) to form part of a volume of piano pieces by Australian composers, published to celebrate Australia’s Bicentennary. Like BLUES IN ORANCE, emphasis is focussed on the lower notes of the piano and the main theme has a decidedly jazz feel to it, featuring bouncy rhythms and chords often associated with jazz music. To balance things, the contrasting sections are set in the upper registers. The original volume is out of print, however PRELUDE is now available as a separate work from the Australian Music Centre, Sydney. A.C.B.
TRACK 7. ANN CARR-BOYD - TITAN (2004)
TITAN will form part of Volume II of LOOK AT THE STARS. It was composed especially for this recording, at the request of John Martin. Titan is a satellite of the planet Saturn and until recently was thought to be the largest in our solar system - but now that spot has been taken by Ganymede, a satellite of Jupiter - however in deference to its Titanic name, the left hand features giant-like steps.
ROBERT ALLWORTH - VISIONS OF MARY IMMACULATE (2004)
TRACK 8. MEDITATIONS OF SAINT CATHERINE LABOURE OF THE MIRACULOUS MEDAL
TRACK 9. HYMN TO OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM
TRACK 10. HYMN TO THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
TRACK 11. VISION OF LOURDES - THE APPEARING OF MARY IMMACULATE. The four short pieces that make up VISIONS OF MARY IMMACULATE relate to vision that various Saints have experienced throughout the centuries. The mood throughout these pieces is one of ethereal meditation. Time is transcended by religious experience and shows that the Virgin Mary, ever Virgin and conceived without spot or stain of original sin is with us for all eternity. The composer's belief and devotion to the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY is exemplified in this music. This composition was originally written for organ in 1989. R.A.
TRACK 12. ROBERT ALLWORTH - PRELUDE FOR THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (2004)
Introit Rev.l2. A great wonder appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the Sun, and the Moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. This quote from the Bible exemplifies that the IMMACULATE VIRGIN MARY entered heaven as Queen and the music attempts to capture the grandeur of this event. The music also exists as an organ piece. (SEE TRACK 17) R.A.
Track 13. ERIC GROSS (b.1926) GEBURTSTAGSGRUSS op.l45 (1985) (Birthday Greeting for J.S.B. BARTLETT) for organ or keyboard. This brief work was composed in 1985 to mark the tercentenary of Johann Sebastian Bach's birthday and was first performed on July 11th of that year in St. Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, by Canon Lawrence Bartlett in its original version for organ which he also recorded for the JADE CD label. The music’s main subject is based upon the notes Bb, A, C, B (H in German) and the composition's form and texture constitute a three-part fugato, building up to a short and climactic final stretto. This recording is the version for piano. E.G.
TRACK 14. ERIC GROSS (b.1926) - PLECTROBONE I 0p.273/1 (2003) A Duet for Mandolin and Tenor Trombone. This composition is primarily a musical discussion between two rather disparate instruments. After a lively first section, the slow section provides thematic and also coloristic contrast by use of the cup mute on the trombone and the "sul tasto” (on the fingerboard) position of the mandolin plectrum. Each instrument has a cadenza-like passage before the final, hectic ending. The music seeks to utilise and blend not only the idiosyncratic and technical possibilities of both instruments but also represents a challenge to the outstanding musicianship and technical expertise to the two performers, Greg van der Struik (Tenor Trombone) and MichaeI Hooper (Mandolin), for whom this work was written. E.G.
TRACK 5. ERIC GROSS (b.1926)- CADENZA XI op.272 for Alto Trombone. The musical material in this work constitutes a reworking of the cadenzas contained in my CONCERTO FOR ALTO TROMBONE AND CONCERT BAND OR ORCHESTRA, also written especially for the performer on this recording, Greg van der Struik, who has recorded the Concerto with the University of Newcastle Wind Orchestra conducted by lan Cook. This CADENZA provides performers with an opportunity for display of musical and technical virtuosity on an instrument for which there does not seem to be much solo repertoire, despite the fact that the Alto Trombone can be a very impressive and expressive instrument when played by an expert. E.G.
TRACK 16. DEREK STRAHAN (b. 1935) - MUTATION I FOR FLUTE AND GUITAR (1963) Derek Strahan - MIDI Realisation ex Roland E-28 Intelligent Keyboard
'MUTATION I" is the first of two works written to illustrate, in musical terms, a process of survival, not by struggle, but by virtue of the character enduring the onset of conditions inimical to the survival of the species as a whole. Thus the "Entity" motif is stated twice in the opening bars in the form of a simple jazz riff. Immediately hostile environmental forces begin to act on it, represented by various other musical motifs. The "entity" resists these simply by remaining itself, unchanged, throughout. The Coda suggests a peaceful outcome of this process, implying that the environment has become conducive to the continued existence of the "Entity".
("Mutation II" for Wind Octet was premiered in New Zealand at the Auckland Festival 1964). D.W.S.
TRACK 17. ROBERT ALLWORTH - PRELUDE FOR THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (1990)
This is the organ version composed in 1990. The piano version on Track 12 was completed in October 2004.
JOHN MARTIN - PIANIST- John Martin is a pianist in constant demand partnering some of Australia's best known singers and instrumentalists. He is also the recipient of an Australian Council Study Grant. John studied and performed in England & Europe for 11 years. He is now based in Sydney. He is an all-round musician equally at home in cabaret as well as classical. He is a graduate of The Sydney Conservatorium and for the past three years lecturer on the ensemble study staff of the Sydney Conservatorium.
The instrument used for this recording was designed and handcrafted by Stuart & Sons Newcastle, Australia. This new generation 2.2M grand piano was commissioned by J. Albert & Sons Pty Ltd for their Tiger Recording Studios, Sydney and embodies Stuart & Sons hallmark design features that produce extraordinary tonal clarity, dynamic range and sustain. The instrument has eight octaves and four pedals that enable pianists to explore aspects of the tonal spectrum hitherto unavailable on standard pianos.