NIGEL WESTLAKE (b.1958): Piano Trio (Macquarie Trio Australia), String Quartet No. 2 (Goldner String Quartet), Piano Sonata (Michael Kieran Harvey), The Hinchinbrook Riffs (Craig Ogden [guitar]), Kalabash (Synergy Percussion).
Catalogue Number: 09J092
Label: Tall Poppies
Description: Westlake's music has a lively accessibility and fluency which is most attractive, and which has likely contributed to his success as a film composer. Neoclassicism and tonality are well to the fore and the pieces are sophisticated and imaginative. The trio is an easy-going work, framing a contemplative slow movement with an increasingly agitated first and a lively, dancing, jazzy finale. The guitar work uses a digital delay to precisely echo the performer just over a half-second after each note is played; the consonant and melodic nature of the material avoids all suggestions of an 'electroacoustic composition', the result instead sounding ingeniously like a pulsating dialogue between a 'real' and 'virtual' performer. The quartet has a driving rhythmic energy, some pounding rhythms suggesting the composer's non-classical early background, though well absorbed into a language of polyrhythmic ingenuity. The slow movement by contrast is one long extended melody. The percussion work, for the sonorous combination of two marimbas with four players, evokes traditional music, especially of West Africa, without borrowing, excerpt from the exotic atmosphere and textures of tribal drumming. The sonata has a relentless, almost hectic energy in the highly virtuosic outer movements, again studies in polyrhythm with a distinct jazz element, framing a lyrical slow movement.