Pleasure Garden Genevieve Lacey ABC Classics Many children grow up loving or hating the recorder as an instrument. Those primary school lessons with Mrs Shirley were bound to leave a mark, as 30 players tried to hit the same note at once and rarely succeeded. But it is surely impossible not to be spellbound by Genevieve Lacey, recorder virtuoso, and best known to ABC Classic FM listeners for that radio station’s fad of playing (or was it overplaying?) a lovely inhouse release called Reinventions.
On that album, released in 2015, Lacey was joined by the Flinders Quartet. She played recorders of all types for a traditional-style piece by Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin and revamps of works by Bach and Mozart. Pleasure Garden is so different to that recording. There are hints of the ancient repertoire, but much of the album, billed as “an interactive sound sculpture”, is high-pitched hoots, tweets, rhythms and the occasional recorder run, blended with birdcalls and other bush sounds.
Pleasure Garden was first intended as an installation for Lambley Gardens in Ascot, Victoria, and for Vaucluse House as part of last year’s Sydney Festival. The music is grounded in vignettes by the 17th-century Dutch composer Jacob van Eyck, a blind musician famous in Utrecht for wandering public gardens playing his “little flute”. Even the album’s title is inspired by van Eyck: his surviving solo woodwind work is called Der Fluyten Lust-hof, or The Flute’s Pleasure Garden. Lacey’s performance is thoughtful, even wistful. It is late-night ambient fare, depending on the mood.