Tall Poppies


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Graeme Murphy's Body of Work

$23   (Australian dollars)


buy at: AMC - Buywell

For 25 years the Sydney Dance Company, under the artistic direction of Graeme Murphy, has dominated the Australian dance scene. Murphy has always had a special mission to commission and promote new Australian dance work, and this CD presents a small selection of some of the most successful scores, released to coincide with a national tour celebrating his work. A huge range of musical styles includes the cheeky tango from Vine's celebrated score to Poppy, the night club styles of Iva Davies, the gentle melodic invention of Graeme Koehne and the powerful orchestral work of Conyngham.

Carl VinePoppy
Graeme KoehneThe Selfish Giant
Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra
Stephen Barlow, conductor
Iva Davies and Robert KretschmerBoxes
Graeme KoehneNearly Beloved
Barry ConynghamVast
Australian Youth Orchestra
John Hopkins, conductor
Carl VinePiano Sonata
Michael Kieran Harvey, piano
Martin ArmigerFornicon
Iva Davies and Max LambertBerlin


Since becoming Artistic Director of the Sydney Dance Company in 1974, Graeme Murphy has commissioned many works by Australian composers. Here is a representative sampling. Carl Vine (b 1954) wrote Tango (from Poppy, 1978) when he was Sydney Dance's composer in residence. The terrific little piece is subtle, witty, tuneful, and nicely orchestrated. The excellent reading is by,

amazingly, "performers Unknown"-a group of woodwinds and brass with piano. Vine's two-movement Piano Sonata (1992) sandwiches a madly whirling perpetual-motion study between a calm beginning and ending of I. II begins with a frenzied staccato, takes on a character not unlike Debussy's Sunken Cathedral, then becomes demonic again. Michael Harvey gives the sonata an outstanding reading.

Graeme Koehne (b 1956) studied at Yale with Louis Andriessen and Jacob Druckman, and also worked with Virgil Thompson. His Selfish Giant (1983) is represented here by the lovely 'Garden Scene', played by the Queensland Philharmonic. From the piano quintet Nearly Beloved (1986) is a 'Valse Noble' that sounds like something from 1920s musical theater, a rather hackneyed 'Blues', and an earnest 'Elegy and Valse Sentimentale'. The artists are violinists Robert Ingram and Gordon Bennett, violist Andrea Ullrich, cellist Barbara Woolley, and pianist Max Lambert.

`No Promises' (from Boxes, 1985) is by Davire Davies and Robert Kretschmer, and the performance is by their eclectic Australian rock band Icehouse. It's nice to hear some variety, but the selection is rather ordinary. More interesting are two excerpts from Berlin (1995), by Davies and Max Lambert, also performed by Icehouse. Big, synthesized string sounds and piano improvisations are heard in `Pas de trois', circus music in `Trapeze'.

Barry Conyngham (b 1944) studied composition with Peter Sculthorpe and Toru Takemitsu. The Australian Youth Orchestra, conducted by John Hopkins, plays three movements from Vast (1988). 'Vast III: The Centre, Part 2' is a melancholy piece for violin and orchestra. 'Vast II: The Coast, Part 2-To the Mountains' is sometimes atmospheric, sometimes intense, while 'Vast IV: The Cities, Part 3--Towards Stars' is splashy.

Three portions of Martin Armiger's Fornicon (1995) are included. Synthesized trumpet sounds are gradually overtaken by rock-style ones in 'Author and His Critic'. 'Fornicon' has Mark Williams singing with a rock band, while 'Opium' is spacey electronic music.

Commissioning new music is laudable, of course, and so is supporting Australian composers. I am not convinced, though, that this " body of work" is truly significant.
Barry Kilpatrick
American Record Guide, Nov-Dec, 2001

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 TP (1-901)



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