Close Your Eyes and I’ll Close Mine Anna McMichael, violin; Tamara Anna Cislowska, piano Tall Poppies
THIS intriguing CD began life modestly as a collection of lullabies. Instead, it invites you into the “night thoughts” of composers whose minds cannot rest, and who lead you into their dreams.
This collection of 15 thought-provoking miniatures, none lasting more than six minutes, ranges over the gamut of the 20th-century styles. Barely known jewels by well-known masters (Ravel, Stravinsky, Sibelius, Szymanowski and Enescu) are interleaved with rough diamonds from several contemporaries and a lustrous collection of Australians (Brett Dean, Koehne, Ford, Kats-Chernin and Kate Moore). The most beguiling is the tiny lullaby recomposed for this project by the late US composer Robert Ashley, whose folksiness drifts us into the late night domain of his TV operas.
The surprise inclusion of Ashley reveals the breadth of repertoire and contacts of the project’s originator. Violinist Anna McMichael returned to Australia in 2010 after 17 years performing with some of Europe’s leading orchestras and new music ensembles. She plays with authority and heart in like measure, not quite passion, more the persuasive tone of wellreasoned argument. Equally, her accompanist Tamara Anna Cislowska negotiates the diverse range of keyboard styles with just the right mix of mind and body. This natural collaboration beckons further explorations of this kind.
Not that they have exhausted the lullaby by any means: there are tonnes more out there (why do composers think “lullaby” and “violinand-piano” in the same breath?). Let’s hope that Tall Poppies, that brave Aussie label which takes so many risks with Aussie performance, will release more volumes of these miniatures.