Peter Sculthorpe is 75 and deserves to be celebrated in Europe as well as in his Pacific homeland. I liked the single movement piano concerto, with its working up of minimal materials (but not minimal in feeling) and ideas derived up from gamelan and Japanese court music; it should be more widely known.
The works representing three decades of prolific output are well varied. There are some evocative sounds of Sculthorpe's Tasmania and Australia, with didjeridu in Earthcry and exotic birds in Kakadu. Memento Mori, which is built upon a semitonal oscillation and quotes the Dies Irae, reflects the tragedy of Easter Island, where great stone heads remain, but without any surviving history to tell of their significance.
The judicious selection is played authoritatively by the NZSO and recorded to demonstration standard. This is an exhilarating CD and a bargain at Naxos' budget price.
Copyright © 2005, Peter Grahame Woolf