PETER SCULTHORPE (b.1929): Requiem (Adelaide Chamber Singers, William Barton [didgeridu], Adelaide Symphony Orchestra; Arvo Volmer), My Country Childhood, Earth Cry (abridged version), Great Sandy Island, New Norcia for Brass and Percussion, Quamby (Adelaide SO; James Judd).
Catalogue Number: 02I081
Label: ABC Classics
Reference: 476 5692
Description: Sculthorpe's second requiem (an earlier one was written for solo cello in 1979) was completed in January of 2004. Unlike in many of his works, he does not recycle music from pre-existing pieces in this one; the addition of the didgeridu adds an otherworldly aspect to the piece (it often underpins the orchestra like a ground but also has its highly effective solo moments too) and speaks of the composer's ongoing concern for some kind of racial justice for Australian Aborigines. However, Gregorian chant can also be heard and the Dies irae duly appears in the Sequentia but the work's center is non-liturgical - a nine-minute setting of an Aboriginal lullaby (filtered through Western harmonizations not of Sculthorpe's doing) which is dedicated to Iraqi children killed during the ongoing war. The piece's overall effect is of a tranquil, slightly grief-tinged desire for eternal rest and light and it is conveyed in a language which can vary from a primitive intensity (as in the drum-underpinned Introit) to a quasi-"world music" sound to something which you could possibly actually hear in a memorial service. This lasts 42 minutes while the 73-minute second disc contains nothing which is otherwise available. The version of Quamby was made for this recording and so not identical with the ABC Classics disc we offered in November of 2005. The two other longer works are 1998's Great Sandy Island, whose five sections (23 minutes) are another of Sculthorpe's sonic representations of lush tropical landscapes, and My Country Childhood of a year later whose four short musical reminiscences are simple yet heartfelt and haunting. Texts included. 2 CDs.