With Love and Fury Brodsky Quartet & Katie Noonan Kin Music Katie Noonan first made the acquaintance of the Brodsky Quartet through its celebrated 1993 collaboration with Elvis Costello, The Juliet Letters. Almost 25 years later this renowned British ensemble is Noonan’s backing band. Noonan has chosen 10 of her favourite Australian composers to set texts by the Australian poet-environmentalist Judith Wright. There is ample variety here, but the gossamer tones of Noonan’s voice provide continuity that sustains the hour of music. Trained in opera and unafraid of venturing into unfamiliar vocal territory, Noonan seduces the listener with close-miked singing somewhere between Bjork and Cathy Berberian. In settings by Iain Grandage and David Hirschfelder, she soaks operatically. In music by John Rodgers and Richard Tognetti she leaps over the pitfalls of contemporary vocal techniques. In her own song and another by Paul Grabowsky, she purrs like a late-night torch singer. Carl Vine, Andrew Ford and Elena Kats-Chernin skirt over the boundaries of the concert platform. This is music that is deeply satisfying, delivered with insight and sensitivity.
Recorded in London in February, the performances are uniformly excellent, but the liner notes, such as they are, are disappointing. While it’s wonderful to have all 10 Wright poems quoted in full, there is no salient commentary about Wright or her legacy. No details about the composers, nor durations. No doubt future pressings will address these basic omissions.
On this landmark album, Noonan is at the top of her game. Perhaps only momentarily: with each new venture, she leads herself and her listeners to higher levels of experience and sheer delight.