The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Vin­cent Plush

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.

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