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

Reverie The Aus­tralian Voices ABC Clas­sics In 1993, when Stephen Leek and Graeme Mor­ton founded the Aus­tralian Voices, this group of 20 or so young singers cre­ated a sound that em­bod­ied the vi­tal­ity of Aus­tralian youth. Much of their mu­sic was based on Leek’s feel­ings about Aus­tralia, draw­ing on land­scape and indige­nous her­itage. When Gor­don Hamil­ton was ap­pointed the group’s direc­tor in 2009, he took it to more up­mar­ket places: new reper­toire and pro­duc­tion val­ues. All this fig­ures in this el­e­gant new al­bum, 55 min­utes of mu­sic where pro­duc­tion val­ues fig­ure more highly than mu­si­cal con­tent. Sev­eral guest ap­pear­ances break a sense of ho­mo­gene­ity, par­tic­u­larly the per­cus­sion play­ing of Claire Ed­wardes in Gra­ham Lack’s strik­ing Reverie of Bone and the sur­prise burst of trum­petry by James Mor­ri­son at the close of his com­po­si­tion Un­der­wa­ter Bas­ket Weav­ing. Hamil­ton has ar­ranged the now cel­e­brated El­egy by Fred­er­ick Sep­ti­mus Kelly, the Aus­tralian com­poser killed in the last days of the Bat­tle of the Somme. Kelly’s piece memo­ri­alises his friend Ru­pert Brooke, but as­sign­ing the text of a Brooke poem to Kelly’s string sonori­ties seems a step too far. Hamil­ton’s set­ting of Waltz­ing Matilda strives for orig­i­nal­ity through con­trasts, but its en­ergy and vigour are over­whelmed by a sur­feit of ideas. For many, the high­light and sell­ing point will be the two sound-text pieces by Robert David­son that pro­vide choral back­grounds to record­ings of fa­mous voices. The first, Ju­lia Gil­lard’s out­burst at Tony Ab­bott’s misog­yny, is al­ready fa­mous. The sec­ond, ex­cerpts from the col­lected wis­dom of Don­ald Trump, teeters pre­car­i­ously on the brink of bad taste.

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