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

An Es­say on Love Ananda Sukar­lan anan­da­sukar­lan­cen­

Ask any Aus­tralian about mu­sic in In­done­sia and the an­swer will rarely get be­yond the game­lan. Apart from that rich lin­eage of tra­di­tional mu­sic and the in­creas­ing preva­lence of more com­mer­cial pop­u­lar id­ioms, there is a strong tra­di­tion now in In­done­sia of clas­si­cal mu­sic inspired by Western her­itage. In this con­text, the mu­si­cian lead­ing the in­ter­na­tional ex­port of In­done­sian mu­sic would have to be 47-year-old Ananda Sukar­lan, pi­anist, con­duc­tor, com­poser and pur­veyor of com­pe­ti­tions and events. An Es­say on Love con­tains 12 short songs to texts by In­done­sian po­ets, sung in Ba­hasa by im­pres­sive tenor and so­prano voices. Some are ded­i­ca­tions to vic­tims of earth­quakes, tsunamis and AIDS, and show glim­mers of Ja­vanese scales and full-blown Ital­ian opera. Like many In­done­sian com­posers, Sukar­lan is an un­abashed melodist; one of his duets sounds as beau­ti­ful as any­thing by Mon­teverdi. Sukar­lan also has a deft ear for in­stru­men­tal colour, shown in the 21-minute Cham­ber Sym­phony No 1 (2010) for 10 in­stru­ments, com­mis­sioned by for­mer In­done­sian pres­i­dent BJ Habi­bie in mem­ory of his wife. (A record­ing of Sukar­lan’s sec­ond cham­ber sym­phony, pre­miered ear­lier this month, will be re­leased next month.) At times, as the lis­tener nes­tles into the fa­mil­iar world of Hol­ly­wood-inspired film mu­sic, an imp­ish ges­ture in­ter­rupts, re­veal­ing the Jakarta ori­gins of the com­poser and his many in­flu­ences from Ital­ian opera, Sond­heim mu­si­cals, Mil­haud neo­clas­si­cism and tra­di­tional Ja­vanese scales and dance forms. As com­poser, pi­anist, con­duc­tor and pros­e­ly­tiser, Sukar­lan would be a welcome guest at any arts fes­ti­val here and a highly ef­fec­tive builder of artis­tic bridges be­tween In­done­sia and Aus­tralia. This al­bum pro­vides an im­pres­sive in­tro­duc­tion to an in­ter­na­tion­ally sig­nif­i­cant com­poser and his mu­sic.

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