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Australian Fantasia

Orchestral Works by David Stanhope

$23   (Australian dollars)


buy at: AMC - Buywell

This CD presents orchestral works by David Stanhope and four of his transcriptions for orchestra. Except for Olympic Fireworks, which was part of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games opening ceremony, all these works are hitherto unperformed in public.

David Stanhope says “Few ears, even those of an expert, are likely to notice the difference between an actual orchestra and a digital one like my orchestra, if not told beforehand. But spotting flaws (which may be the absence of flaws!) is not the point. It is the music itself and its worth that matters most in creating digital performances that bring unknown or neglected music to life. It needs to be stressed that there is no intention to replace orchestras or their players by this project; it records music that cannot presently be heard because existing orchestras do not play it. The one should complement the other, and may lead to recognition and future performances.”

Stanhope is a renowned Australian conductor, noted for his many operatic performances and his recording and performing work with Australian orchestras. This project is part of his research for his doctorate and is a world-first in the international world of recording.

David StanhopeAustralian Fantasia
Three Folk-Elegies
Petite Suite Française
Olympic Fireworks
Rachmaninoff (arr. Stanhope)Étude-Tableau Op. 39, no,5
Grainger (arr. Stanhope)Recessional
Fauré (arr. Stanhope) Last Variation
Godowsky (arr. Stanhope)Hari Besaar


It would be hard to imagine a more multifaceted musician in this country than David Stanhope. Conductor of opera, ballet, film music and symphonies; brass player, pianist and orchestrator extraordinaire, the man has long been fond of dabbling with technology. Like many of his generatlon, his music isn't played much in our concert halls any more, so Stanhope has taken to computer instruments to create a "virtual orchestra" to breathe new life into his music, and that of other neglected Australian composers. The results are astonishingly good; it is almost impossible to discern any difference between the real orchestra and its computerised counterpart - except, perhaps, when there is something of a metallic sheen to the overall sound. Still, if his computer can produce to convincing effect a string orchestra, a pipe organ and a triangle ping, who are we to decry the end result? My own reservation is the sheer volume of this album’s 17 tracks, totalling nearly 77 minutes. While the composer may prefer to ramp up the volume level, a listener may reach to turn it down. There is a ceremonial demeanour to much of this full-blooded fare, such as music for the Sydney Olympics fireworks and an arrangement of the national anthem. Overall, the music is splendid, especially sections where brass sections dominate. The ghosts of Percy Grainger and, increasingly, Charles Ives hover heavily over Stanhope's scores, and his lush and highly chromatic arrangements of Grainger. Rachmaninov. Faure and Godowsky make for compelling listening. Overall, though, it compels a question: who needs an orchestra anymore?
© Vincent Plush
The Australian April 14, 2018

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 TP (1-901)



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