Jade CDs are widely heard on national and fine music stations throughout Australia, and are recognised as a valuable resource by educational authorities as being uniquely representative of the work of Australian composers. They are manufactured in limited runs of 500 and stocks are therefore may be regarded as collectors' items! All Jade CD covers are distinctive. Most Jade CDs have an anthology format and include works by several composers. It's great to have these CDs on offer for a wider audience at CD Baby.
"AMERICAN DREAM" JADCD 1090
Works by: Robert Allworth, Ann Carr-Boyd, Carson P. Cooman, Eric Gross, Ian Shanahan, Laurence Bartlett, Derek Strahan, Betty Beath, Mary Mageau. Duration: 69'01"
A brief summary of content. Scroll down further for more details - press reviews, composer's own notes.
This is the first Jade CD featuring works by both American and Australian composers. Prolific US composer Carson P. Cooman, also a fine organist, performs two pieces written by Allworth in 2000 and dedicated to the memory of Oscar Wilde (A Dream of Decadence / Decay of Lying) as well as his own "Romanza For Organ" (2000), a meditative piece enriched by lush sonorities. The works were recorded in the USA and played on the Isham Memorial Organ (built 1967) in The Memorial Church, Harvard University.
The title track, by Carr-Boyd (for flute & piano) was inspired by the composer's attendance in 1992 at a meeting at a large theatre in Hartford, Connecticut, held to commemorate Martin Luther King Day.
Also for flute & piano is Strahan's "Et In Arcadia Ego" (1990), a Cantata from a larger work "Atlantis" (released on JADCD 1063, "Voodoo Fire"). This segment portrays a lovers' idyll on the balcony of a villa overlooking the ocean on a moonlit night in Atlantis.
Exciting counterpoint abounds in "Essay for Mandolin & Wind Quintet" (1996) by Gross and in his intriguing "Concertino for Button Accordion (Bayan) and Plectrum Ensemble" (2000).
Allworth's "Study In Grey" for Mandolin and Wind Quintet (1997), a serial work, sustains lyricism through the use of surprising harmonies and melodic lines.
Shanahan's "Solar Dust: Orbits & Spirals", a work for solo mandolin, employs a range of devices (including microtonal deviations) to paint a "spacescape" of the planet Saturn, observed through the ice crystals which comprise its rings.
Mageau solos in her own piano work "Soliloquy" written in 1984 as a dance piece , and Barnaby Ralph ably conveys elemental quietude in Beath's Night Songs No. 1 & 2, for solo Recorder, Bass then Alto. (Scroll down for more notes on Night Songs by the composer in a magazine review).
In Bartlett's celebratory "Procession for Elizabeth" the composer provides organ sonorities recorded in Sydney, Australia.
Press reviews follow.
Carson P. Cooman has given live performances of a number of Allworth's organ works in the US, which have received favourable notices in the press.
EXCERPT FROM REVIEW OF CARSON P. COOMAN ORGAN RECITAL - OCTOBER 24, 2000
"... The next offering was by Australian composer Robert Allworth and was an absolute aural treat. Lush and ravishing sonorities abounded in the slowly moving musical landscape of its two movements - melodies of diverse natures slowly unfolded. Cooman's loving interpretation brought out subtle nuances in the presentations of melodic and harmonic ideas that appeared and reappeared. A highly effective work leading to lucious polytonal climax. This is an excellent work by a talented composer. I look forward to hearing more of his work..." - Hal Mondrian, New Musica New York USA
EXCERPTS FROM OTHER REVIEWS:
From one reviewer, "Exquisite doesn't even begin to describe the offering from Australian composer Robert Allworth. With its shimmering beauty, and slow-moving harmonies, it was truly a work beautful beyond words."
And another, "The performance of a number of pieces by Robert Allworth, a composer from Australia, who I had never heard of before, but has written extensively for the organ in the past were tremendous. Messiaen is called to mind with the almost mystical gorgeousness of the very slowly changing sonorites but the harmonic language is certainly not Messiaen's and seems quite personal and direct."
CD: American Dream. Reviewed by Rita Crews.
The Studio - Quarterly Magazine of the Music teachers' Association of New South Wales.
The high standard we have come to expect from CDs produced by Robert Allworth is again evident in his latest release entitled American Dream: Music of American and Australian Composers. Containing 14 works, eight written in the last two years, a variety of musical genre and ensemble combinations feature in a collection of music that delights the ear.
The title track, 'American Dream' by Ann Carr-Boyd, written whilst the composer was in the United States and inspired by a rally to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, is in the manner of a tone poem for flute and harpsichord. The poignant yet impassioned flute writing - representing the various preachers - serves as a perfect foil to the underlying voice of the harpsichord, representing the congregation. Listen intently for the speaker!
The second work on the disc, this time for flute and piano, is Derek Strahan's cantata, 'Et in Arcadia Ego' from his 1990 chamber work 'Atlantis'. Previously released on the JADE label, nevertheless, it is always refreshing to hear the luscious tones of this composer's writing.
Robert Allworth's own organ works, miniature tone poems representing the life of Oscar Wilde entitled 'A Dream of Decadence' and 'Decay of Lying' were both written in 2000 and are dedicated to the American organist, Carson P. Cooman who premiered the works at Harvard University. Having heard Allworth's earlier works and been captivated with the composer's original writing style, Cooman subsequently requested a substantial organ work, hence the tracks appearing here. Cooman as composer also features on the disc with 'Romanza' (2000) for organ, dedicated to the memory of Dulcie Holland. The ethereal layers of sound, the almost hypnotic mood of the underlying pedal notes gives a quiet dignity, to this reflective work.
Ever the practical composer, Eric Gross has written many works especially for the Sydney Mandolins - one of the few composers writing for such an ensemble- and a trio of works feature on this disc. 'Concertino for Button Accordion (Bayan) and Plectrum Ensemble' (2000) replaces what was the original organ part of this work originally entitled 'And the Sun danced on Easter Morn,' with plectrum ensemble; 'Essay for Mandolin and Wind Quintet' (1996) and 'Michael Meanders Again' (1999) complete the trio. The Quinterlude Wind Quintet which perform these works feature later on the disc with the 1997 work by Robert Allworth, 'Study in Grey'.
Solo recorder works by Betty Beath. 'Night Song No. I' for bass recorder and 'Night Song No. 2' for alto recorder written in 2000 are both performed by Barnaby Ralph. The languid, nocturnal mood of No. 1 is brilliantly captured by the performer, as is the yearning quality of the contrasting alto work. NIGHT SONG No.l for BASS RECORDER and NICHT SONG NO.2 for ALTO RECORDER by Betty Beath are both published by THE KEYS PRESS.
Program notes by the composer, which accompany the score, are as follows: "NIGHT SONGS - two PIECES FOR SOLO RECORDER were written following the chance meeting with musician Barnaby Ralph and his invitation to write for the Bass Recorder, an instrument he felt was somewhat neglected, and for the instru ment of his choice, the Alto Recorder. Hearing his performance in recital on these and other instruments I recognised his extraordinary ability as a musician, performer and communicator, and was pleased to accept his brief to write pieces for solo recorder. For me the sound of the recorder is strongly linked with nature; sounds you might hear as you walk a forest path, the sighing of wind in the branches of trees as well as ancient and elemental images come to mind. These two pieces for solo recorder have a quality of langour we might associate with the night; perhaps NIGHT SONG 1, for solo bass recorder, could be thought of as a lullaby, while NICHT SONG is a song of the heart."
'Solar Dust: Orbits and Spirals' for mandolin written by Ian Shanahan and performed by Michael Hooper, features the composer's distinctive style and focuses on the pitch B and its microtones.
Mary Mageau as both composer and performer features in this re-release of her 1984 work, 'Soliloquy' written for the QUT Dance Department and choreographed by Maggie Sietsma. The work's dreamy character and flowing mood are perfectly suited to the chosen piano idiom. The concluding track, featuring the lush tones of Lawrence Bartlett's 1988 organ work, 'Procession for Elisabeth' - written on the occasion of his daughter's wedding and played by the composer - makes a stately end to this disc.
Released on the JADE label as CD1090, American Dream is produced by Robert Allworth.
PRESS COMMENT ON ROBERT ALLWORTH
Extracts from article in 2MBS-FM Program Guide, January 1996. (2MBS is the major local broadcaster of fine music in Sydney, Australia, and has its equivalent in other capital cities, rivalling the national broadcaster (ABC) in quality output.)
If you want to give a newcomer to Australia an excellent overview of the range of music that's been composed here over the past 20 years or so, all you'd need to do would be to play them some of the 40 Jade CDs produced by the Sydney composer Robert Allworth. (Ed. Jade CDs now number 55, as at July 1997) No other label has produced the extraordinary quantity, quality and range of Australian music as Jade. The music released on this label spans the work of many generations of Australian composers ... Acclaimed by fellow-composers and teachers, Robert Allworth's pioneering Jade CD enterprise has been described as a 'miracle', a 'unique project' which has championed Australian music, especially the work of women composers. He's also acknowledged for championing the music of little-known or experimental composers. Allworth has been described as a 'visionary' and is widely regarded among his peers for his outstanding contribution to Australian music ...
On Allworth's own work as composer: Allworth has been mainly influenced by the Romantics, Impressionist composers and serialism. "I very much like Webern the Viennese School and Stravinski and I'm particularly interested in the twelve note system,' he adds. He also feels he's been subtly influenced by some Asian music. His inspirations have come from literature, memory and especially theology and spirituality.