Tall Poppies


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A Patchwork of Shadows

Ian Munro (piano)

$23   (Australian dollars)


buy at: AMC - Buywell - iTunes

Munro is one of only two or three major pianists working in Australia today. He is passionate about the music of his composer peers and this programme is one of the most carefully-chosen on CD. One can glean the dimensions of Munro's musical interests here.

Malcolm WilliamsonPiano Sonata No 1
Gordon KerryWinter Through Glass
Keith HumblePiano Sonata No 3
Keith HumblePiano Sonata No 4
Peter SculthorpeNocturnal
Peter SculthorpeNight Pieces
Roger SmalleyVariations on a theme of Chopin
Katharine ParkerFour Musical Sketches


[the Sculthorpe pieces]…both are sombre, slow-unfolding, incantatory mood pieces in Sculthorpe's "primitive" dissonant/modal language that are meant to evoke the dignity and mystery of the harsh Australian landscape. Listeners tuned to Sculthorpe's muse will surely find much that is beautiful here, as I did – especially in the delicate Night Pieces. Smalley's 10-minute-long Variations on a Theme of Chopin is beautiful too – in ways that could hardly be more different. This is a wildly extrovert and sophisticated creation that subjects Chopin's Mazurka in B-flat minor to a gauntlet of virtuoso dislocation and prismatic refractions through which the tune manages to retain is identity and indeed over which it at last triumphs, Liszt would be proud.
American Record Guide March/April 1995

A Patchwork of Shadows is the title of a piece by the Tasmanian Katharine Parker. She was born in 1881, was a friend and pupil of Grainger, and composed in a style not unlike his. Parker represents an extreme instance of the kind of institutional neglect meted out to female composers down the centuries: in Parker's case, such was the neglect that in the latter part of her career that we don't even know the year of her death - it was early in the 1960s. On the evidence of the four works presented here, she is a cause worth taking up, and the pianist who has done it is Ian Munro.

Munro's disc is one of the most satisfying composer compilations I have heard… for some reason the music on this CD works very well as a whole. Certainly Munro's playing is one of the disc's unifying features: it is not only deeply musical – I am tempted to say poetic – playing, but it also seems technically flawless.… What emerges most clearly from this selection of pieces is his range as a performer. He seems equally at home in Gordon Kerry's icily sensuous Winter Through Glass, the almost neo-classical first sonata of Malcolm Williamson and Sculthorpe at his most ruminative. In Humble;s third and fourth sonatas, however, Munro is simply brilliant, and his performances have made me wish that someone would do something about recording a great deal more of this significant composer's work.
Andrew Ford
24 Hours.

When one recalls the Smalley of Intermodulation, erstwhile white hope of the British avant-garde in the early 1970s, it seems scarcely credible that by the late 80s he was composing a Variations on a Theme of Chopin, and Alkanesque-cum-Godowskian fantasy on a Chopin Mazurka in a vein one would imagine more congenial to, well, Ronald Stevenson, say. Perhaps pianist-composers are ever drawn back to repolish the cornerstones of their literature. At all events it's an impressive feat of bravura composition, with a suddenly-stilled poetic epilogue of uneasy pathos. The whole programme is excellently played and recorded. Tall Poppies have an excellent catalogue of modern piano music, and I hope to review more from the same source.
Calum MacDonald
Tempo: A Quarterly Review of Modern Music. April 1995

This is a superb disc. Ian Munro is not only a pianist of extraordinary technical ability but also of great musical insight: the works represented here differ widely in terms of style, yet Munro seems to capture the very essence of each. There are now three recordings of Roger Smalley's Variations on a Theme of Chopin available… Munro negotiates Smalley's sometimes tricky score with ease and his attention to detail, subtle shading of tome and judiciously employed rubati make for a particularly impressive interpretation… Ian Munro and Tall Poppies should be justifiably proud of this wonderfully varied disc. Munro's playing is absolutely first rate and the sound engineering is excellent, the piano naturally placed in the stereo spectrum, warm and rich. Munro's annotations are extremely useful. Buy a copy: you're guaranteed to enjoy it.
Evan Kennea
Soundscapes. March 1995

Ian Munro… a persistent advocate of piano music written by composers from his native Australia, performs a satisfying group of pieces chosen because of his commitment to them rather than because they make a patriotic list.
Roger Covell
Sydney Morning Herald September 1994

Ian Munro's program of 20th-century Australian works for piano is important evidence, if any were needed, that composition in the field of traditional media has been, and continues to be, alive and well in this country. Munro has a fine sense of style, which is supported by acute sensitivity to dynamic, Timbre and texture… The piano is well recorded.
Tony Way
The Age September 1994

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 TP (1-901)



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