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Sculthorpe: Earth Cry, Piano Concerto / Judd, Cislowski


Release Date: 11/16/2004 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557382   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Peter Sculthorpe
Performer:  William BartonTamara Anna Cislowska
Conductor:  James Judd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Check the Sc section on the shelf, there. Probably quite a large section. If Peter Sculthorpe occupies little or no space before D kicks in, then this disc is the solution (or the addition) you need, though Sculthorpe collectors should get it anyway, because it’s so good. His orchestral world has always been rich, dark, strange, intense, colorful, and somewhat cinematic, but immediately appealing. So it goes in all five works recorded here by Naxos, in refined sound (Wellington Town Hall has a great acoustic) and superbly conducted performances by James Judd. Everyone on the day was on top of his or her game, and this is a high-quality, no-compromise product.

Typically, with Sculthorpe, a work grows into something big through
Read more varied repetition, starting from an atmosphere, a rhythm, and a brief, memorable melodic figure. Full-cry Sculthorpe (like everyone else) owes something (though less than most) to Stravinsky, but the brief From Oceania (1970/2003) adopts Sculthorpe’s Sun-Music style, often making the whole orchestra seem percussive, before dying away. Kakadu (1988) surrounds a sensuous English-horn melody with a fine, drum-driven pandemonium in the outer sections. No one does the big, rhythmic, orchestral noise better than Sculthorpe.

By contrast, Memento mori (1986) makes extended use in the strings of the Dies irae, the most overexposed plainchant melody in musical history. Sculthorpe’s rhymical rocking of the tune (a touch of Honegger) is convincing, and moving, against the odds, marvelously built by Judd and the players to a Mahlerish end.

D is for didgeridoo, too. I’m not qualified to assess William Barton’s playing, but he gets things off to a glorious, croaking, rotating start in Earth Cry (1986), and stays with the orchestra for most of its excursions. Nothing “novelty” about the effect: this is deeply affecting, serious, and apt, like Rautavaara’s use of birds in Cantus arcticus.

The Piano Concerto of 1983 is reason enough alone to buy the disc, if any excuse were still needed. A serious 20th-century collection does need to contain this fine work. The rival version on ABC Classics is not wholly outclassed, and the excellent Ross Edwards concerto makes for a tempting coupling there, but the Naxos sounds better. Cislowska plays with some lovely soft tones, and breezes through the bell-chiming difficult bits, projecting all the poetry of Sculthorpe’s sensual, dusky inspiration.

To read Sculthorpe’s lucid notes is to hear a voice as refreshingly honest and intelligent as the music itself: a perfect model. Concerns and inspirations range, of course, across Australia and the environment, and out into the ideas of Kepler and the portrayal of true, married love. As he says, the serious tone of his work reflects a world not entirely free of problems. Sculthorpe’s music is, nonetheless, a modern miracle, and this is simply the most enjoyable CD of recent orchestral music to have come my way in some time.

Paul Ingram, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Kakadu by Peter Sculthorpe
Conductor:  James Judd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; Australia 
2.
Earth Cry by Peter Sculthorpe
Performer:  William Barton (Didjeridu)
Conductor:  James Judd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986; Australia 
3.
Concerto for Piano by Peter Sculthorpe
Performer:  Tamara Anna Cislowska (Piano)
Conductor:  James Judd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1983; Australia 
4.
From Oceania by Peter Sculthorpe
Conductor:  James Judd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Australia 
5.
Memento mori by Peter Sculthorpe
Conductor:  James Judd
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Australia 
Notes: Composition written: Australia (1992 - 1993). 

Sound Samples

Earth Cry
Memento mori: Memento Mori
Piano Concerto
From Oceania
Kakadu

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