Clas­si­cal

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Vin­cent Plush Spin Doc­tor re­turns next week

At long last the work of Amer­i­can com­poser Martin Bres­nick is mak­ing its mark on Aus­tralian mu­sic. A long-time teacher at Yale Univer­sity, Bres­nick has been a crit­i­cal in­flu­ence on sev­eral Aus­tralian com­posers, no­tably Graeme Koehne in Ade­laide. For the past two decades, Bres­nick’s mu­sic has come to us largely through the per­for­mances of his life-part­ner, Aus­tralian­born pi­anist Lisa Moore. She is the ful­crum of sev­eral pieces on this re­cent al­bum, an hour of mu­sic com­pris­ing six in­stru­men­tal pieces com­posed in 2010-12. Moore has no need to ig­nite tech­ni­cal fire­works in this mu­sic. Her per­for­mances, and those of eight col­leagues, are neat, cool and con­sid­ered, de­void of the kind of clammy nos­tal­gia that the con­tent could arouse. Rich in so many sources, Bres­nick draws on his Pol­ish Jewish her­itage, the literature and phi­los­o­phy of New Eng­land tran­scen­den­tal­ism, dis­ap­pear­ing Na­tive Amer­i­can lan­guages and con­tem­po­rary so­cial is­sues. Yet his mu­si­cal lan­guage be­lies the gravitas of such lofty con­cerns. These pieces re­veal his es­pousal of the Ital­ian tra­di­tion of musica povera, cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful fab­rics from ba­sic shards of cloth. From the open­ing oboe solo, a call to prayer from an­cient Jerusalem, to the clos­ing cello cries of Prayers Re­main For­ever, the ta­pes­try be­comes an an­cient scroll of re­flec­tion, Thoreau con­vers­ing with a Tal­mu­dic seer. That con­ver­sa­tion draws in Kafka, Melville and Blake, but never erupts in ar­gu­ment. Mov­ing through tonal ter­ri­to­ries and puls­ing rhythms, Bres­nick blurs the bound­aries of post­mod­ernism and min­i­mal­ism.

Prayers Re­main For­ever Martin Bres­nick Stark­land

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