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Suspended Preludes

Andrew Schultz
Chamber Music Vol. 2

$23   (Australian dollars)


buy at: AMC - Buywell - iTunes

Andrew Schultz, currently Professor of Composition at Wollongong University, is a prolific composer, and has written a large body of chamber music. This CD is the second colume of chamber music by Schultz released by Tall Poppies. It contains nine works, performed by a selection of wonderful Australian musicians.
Andrew Schultz is possibly best-known for his longer works for orchestra, but in his chamber music he expresses the more personal feelings one would expect from smaller more intimate works.

The music is full of variety, ranging from the excitement of Stick Dance III, to the intricacies of the 12 Variations for Piano duo, to the drama of the Suspended Preludes for bass and piano (commissioned by Tall Poppies with funding assistance from the Australia Council).

This CD has been produced with assistance from the University of Wollongong.

Andrew SchultzRespiro/Simple Ground (1993)
Timothy Munro - flute; Bernard Lanskey - piano
Barcarole (1992)
Stephen Emmerson - piano
From Fire Country (2003)
Floyd Williams - bass clarinet
Night Flight (2003)
Dima Tkachenko - violin; Bernard Lanskey - piano
12 Variations (1997)
Bernard Lanskey, Stephen Emmerson - piano
Sleepers Wake - Karalananga (2003)
Bernard Lanskey - piano
Stick Dance III (1992)
Michele Walsh - violin; Paul Dean - clarinet; Stephen Emmerson - piano
Suspended Preludes (1993)
Steve Reeves - double bass; Stephen Emmerson - piano
Tonic Continent (2000)
Griffith Trio: Michele Walsh - violin; Markus Stocker - cello; Stephen Emmerson - piano


In his sense of space, Schultz is a musical descendant of Sculthorpe. There is a refreshing airiness about much of his music. Written over an l l-year period, the works of interest to string players on this recording are the piano trio, clarient trio and a piece each for accompanied violin and bass. The trios suffer somewhat ftom a lack of compositional interest. Not even the fine playing can prevent the frequently repeated patterns from having a soporific effect. However Night Fire for violin and piano sizzles with pizzicati, open E strings and double stops and is played with panache and relentless energy by Dima Tkachcnko and Bernard Lanskey. The Suspended Preludes for bass and piano are fun with sinister overtones, the bass being slid over, struck and slapped with gusto by Steve Reeves. The other pieces on the CD (for winds and pianos) indicate that Schultz’s strengths lie in writing for accompaned solo instruments - the violin and bass pieces are certainly worth investigating.
Susan Pierotti
Stringendo October 2011

This CD, presenting pieces written in the period from 1992 to 2003, is the second collection of his chamber works produced by Tall Poppies - the first produced in 1995.

Andrew Schultz is perhaps best known for his large-scale instrumental and vocal works, including the cantata Journey to Horseshoe Bend. the opera Black River, and the song cycle Ekstasis. In this collection Schultz demonstrates masterful control over a broad range of compositional styles and techniques with smaller instrumental forces. At no point does technique supplant musical material. His earlier works show a great interest in timbre production, perhaps gained from his studies with Luciano Berio. The later works, written around the time of Journey to Horseshoe Bend in 2003, show the influence of older musics and allow Schultz to express passionate and direct emotion. These later works are linked by a common harmonic language - a minor ninth tonality appears to be a common feature (as in the climactic chord of Debussy's Claire de Luriel. drawn out over an extended period. Also common, in contrast, is a major scale tonality with no third or sixth degree.

Slowly evolving dynamics and dissonances are used to build tension in Tonic Continent (2000). performed by the Griffith Trio, released by tumbling downward arpeggios in the violin. We can forgive the odd pitch inconsistency in what is a fiendishly difficult part. The anthem-like theme for this piece was to feature strongly three years later in Horseshoe.

Schultz deftly plays with a standard compositional device using seamlessly smooth transitions in 12 Variations (1997) for piano duet, building to a delicious climax.

Performances throughout are solid, excepting the little fluffs in Tonic Continent, and the recordings are detailed and smooth, as we come to expect from a Tall Poppies recording.

This superb CD is an excellent introduction to the chamber music of one of Australia's finest composers.
Anthony Linden Jones
Music Forum January 2010

Andrew Schultz is an Adelaide born composer who was Head of Composition and Music Studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in London, from 1997 to 2002, and since his return to his homeland he has been Chair of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong. His works have gone round the world and he’s written in most genres and this sampling of his chamber works is as good a place to start with his work, if you don’t known it, as any.

Respiro/Simple Ground for flute and piano (played by Munro and Lanskey) is a true virtuoso work. Is it a race? A dance? A ritual perhaps? It’s all of these things and none of them. In its free form it’s liberated from all definitions. Listen to it simply as an attractive, colourful duet for one of the most melodic of instruments in constant discourse with the keyboard, for that, in essence, is what it is. The long coda is especially beautiful, flecks of sound from both instruments, constantly coming to rest before taking off again, but more tired each time, culminating in the exhalation of breath – the most natural of sounds.

Barcarole for prepared piano (played by Emmerson) has a sinister side to it, perhaps this is the lost grandson of Liszt’s lugubre gondola? It’s very disturbing and unnerving, like those things which go bump in the night (or maybe you just misheard a floorboard creaking).

From Fire Country (the fire country referred to is the country round Horseshoe Bend, Northern Territory, and its legendary heatwaves), for solo bass clarinet (played by Williams) is a long unbroken melody, whose reverie is rudely interrupted by the danse macabre of Night Flight (played by Tkachenko and Lanskey), an unrelenting piece of non–stop forward momentum.

12 Variations for piano duet (played by Emmerson and Lanskey) offers the first respite from all the energy so far expelled on this disk. In general it’s a gentle, and restrained, nocturne, which grows to quite a climax, which is short lived, towards the end. Sleepers Wake – Karalananga for piano (played by Lanskey) is a meditation on two themes from his cantata Journey to Horseshoe Bend – Wachet auf (the Lutheran chorale) and a Karalananga melody which is heard between phrases of the hymn. It has a sustained beauty which is truly memorable.

With Stick Dance III for clarinet, violin and piano (played by Dean, Walsh and Emmerson) we’re back with rhythmic excitement, here tempered by sections of sustained lyricism. The Suspended Preludes for double bass and ever–so slightly prepared piano (played by Reeves and Emmerson) uses a full palatte of sounds, from the usual to vigorous tapping inside the piano, and there’s everything from quiet and meditative to fast and violent. Tonic Continent (played by the Griffith Trio) is a work full of the richest lyricism, warm and vibrant.

The question some people will be asking is, “is this Schultz guy worth investigating?” and the answer, most certainly, is yes. He has an appealing style which, although seemingly difficult at times, can easily be understood in writing which is idiomatic for the instruments he uses and is always colourful and interesting. And what’s more – he can write truly fast music.

The performances are very committed and the notes full and very helpful when making your way through new works. The recording is very clear with good balance between all the players. A real success and well worth investigating.
Bob Briggs

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