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

Com­poser — Crit­ics of the New York Her­ald Tri­bune Var­i­ous artists www.oth­er­ The ap­pear­ance of any record­ing of the mu­sic of Aus­tralian-Amer­i­can com­poser Peggy GlanvilleHicks (1912-90) is a cause for cel­e­bra­tion, es­pe­cially when it’s the work she of­ten de­clared her “favourite child”, the Sonata for Pi­ano and Per­cus­sion (1952). It’s a reis­sue of the original (and sole?) record­ing with pi­anist Carlo Bus­sotti and the New York Per­cus­sion Group con­ducted by Car­los Suri­nach. The work dates from PGH’s hey­day as one of the sta­ble of com­poser-crit­ics at the New York Her­ald Tri­bune. From 1940 to 1954, Vir­gil Thom­son led a team that in­cluded, among others, Paul Bowles, Lou Har­ri­son and John Cage. Each fig­ures in this re­mark­able com­pi­la­tion se­lected by Charles Amirkha­nian, the tire­less and cel­e­brated ad­vo­cate for Amer­i­can mu­sic, through his San Fran­cis­cobased or­gan­i­sa­tion Other Minds. The ir­re­press­ible Thom­son fig­ures as pi­anist in Cap­i­tal Cap­i­tals (1927) a sur­real mix of Gre­go­rian chant and Gertrude Stein, for the bizarre com­bi­na­tion of four male voices and pi­ano. Some non­de­script in­ci­den­tal mu­sic for a farce by Bowles (1938) leaves no great im­pres­sion, while Har­ri­son’s Suite for Cello and Harp (1949) is deeply mov­ing. Cage’s des­ic­cated String Quar­tet in Four Parts (1950), ten­ta­tively played, has not trav­elled well across the decades, nor, sadly, has PGH’s ebul­lient Sonata, which emerges as a kind of Lonely Planet tour of a mu­si­cal world com­posers had barely be­gun to dis­cover. Aside from the mu­sic, the real joy of this re­lease is its com­men­tary, a 60-page book­let as­sid­u­ously com­piled by Amirkha­nian. It should be re­quired read­ing for lazy Aus­tralian com­pa­nies that care lit­tle for back­ground in­for­ma­tion. It il­lus­trates also how we need an Aus­tralian equiv­a­lent of Other Minds.

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