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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Using PayPal you may purchase this discs through MusicWeb for £10 which includes post and packaging world-wide. The disc will be despatched immediately from Revolve in Australia.You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque to avoid PayPal charges. Contact Len.Mullenger@nospamzen.co.uk for details (remove nospam from the address)
Robert ALLWORTH (b. 1943) (A)
Prelude for the Most Holy Name of St. George and The Dragon (1990).
Meditations of Early English Saints (1990).
Saint Giles and Saint Chad
Saint Richard of Chichester and Saint Thomas of Hereford
Saint Dunston and Saint Cuthbert
Saint Charles of Glastonbury and Saint Alban
Saint Joseph of Arimathaea and Saint William of Norwich
Saint Robert of Newminster and Saint Peter of Salisbury

Carson P. COOMAN (contemporary) (A)
Tenebrae Canticle (2001)
Dawning (2002)
Thomas Luis de VICTORIA (1548 – 1611) (B)
Kyrie Eleison and Gloria in Excelsis Deo from Missa O Magnum Mysterium

GOOD FRIDAY HYMN – "The Royal Banners Forward Go" (C)
Lawrence BARTLETT (contemporary) (D)
Ceremonial Te Deum (1988)
Eric GROSS (contemporary)

Rondino Pastorale, Op. 33 (1962) (E)
Prefatory Sonnet Op. 139/1 (1984) – poem by Henry Kendall (F)
Derek STRAHAN (contemporary)

Atlantis Variations for solo piano Part 2 (1992) (G)
Female Magic
Patriarchy

Ann CARR-BOYD

Fandango (1982) (H)
Maladies of Love (1992) (I)
(A) played by Carson Cooman on the Organ at Harvard University Memorial Church U.S.A. 17/05/2002
(B) Diana Sapsford / Lynn Moffat / Charles Dale / Neil McEwan with the Choir of Christ Church Saint Laurence, Sydney, conducted by Colin Sapsford.(1979)
(C) Christ Church Saint Laurence Choir and Congregation, Sydney conducted by Colin Sapsford. (1962)
(D) Bransby Byrne (organ) with the Choir of Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney conducted by Michael Deasey. (1988)
(E) Adrian and Paul Hooper (mandolins), Joyce Bootsma (mandola), Barbara Hooper (guitar), Michael Hooper (bass guitar) and Michael Scott (flute) 2/9/95
(F) Anthony Walker (tenor), Ingrid Pearson (clarinet) and Peter Maddox (piano) 8/8/91
(G) Derek Strahan (piano) 8/6/2002
(H) Sydney Mandolins Large Ensemble conducted by Adrian Hooper (1982)
(I) Ann Carr-Boyd, (piano) 10/02/93
DDD
JADE RECORDS JADCD-1095 [64.09]

 

This is one of the most frustrating discs I have ever had to listen to, let alone review. It is billed as an Australian Festival, reputedly celebrating the 60th birthday of Robert Allworth although to consult the sleeve-notes one would hardly believe it. Although there are brief details of the remainder of the artists heard on this disc, there is no mention whatsoever of the apparent "star" of the proceedings. In addition, this is supposed to be an Australian Festival, and yet all of the organ works by the so-called subject of the disc were recorded in the U.S.A. by an American soloist. I do not believe that there are no organs or organists in Australia!

In addition this mish-mash of different pieces does not seem to have an overall theme pulling them together except, I suppose, that all of the participants are Australian, except Carson P. Cooman, who is American. Given that many of the performances are shoddy, not well performed at all, and recorded with distortion and hiss in many places, I cannot possibly see how Jade Records can expect a market for this product, except if it is made available for sale in the venues where it was put together. Even that is not clear. To issue it at full price on the international market is incredible, and someone in Jade Records needs to have a lesson in how to sell discs.

The apparent subjects of the disc, the two works by Robert Allworth are somewhat puzzling. The first, Prelude for the most Holy Name of Jesus and Saint George and the Dragon, is quite pleasant, but does not seem to progress anywhere. This is also the problem with the second work which is in six sections none of which lasts for more that 1’22". There is little thematic unity or development, and the recording is blessed with a fair degree of hiss. At least there is no distortion and the playing of Carson P. Cooman is direct and clear, but with no ebb and flow, which could have introduced a little variety into these very short and insubstantial pieces, many of which end abruptly with no sense of the journey to the conclusion.

Cooman’s own two short pieces are slightly more involving, but not much – again substantial background hiss.

We then move on to the only normal work on this disc, and we get only two sections of that work. The recording circumstances for these two sections of Victoria’s glorious music is a ruining factor for any enjoyment; background audience noise interferes with none-too-accurate singing from a choir which does not have any vocal flow. If we then add to this poor intonation and highlighting of certain members’ voices within the choir, or perhaps it is the individual members trying to make sure they are heard on the recording. I am not too sure.

When the congregation joins the proceedings under the banners of more hiss, the choir is much to the front. It is difficult to hear the poor congregation except for the end of phrases, where the congregation is behind the choir. As in many church services, the organist is vainly trying to drag the proceedings along by playing half a beat in front of everyone else.

The choir and organ of Saint Andrews Cathedral sound quite different and indeed the sound of the proceedings is much better, but the distortion on the voices is sufficient to spoil what is otherwise a quite interesting piece: the Ceremonial Te Deum by Lawrence Bartlett.

We then get to the solo works. Miraculously, the hiss is much reduced, proving that it can be done. Eric Gross’s two items are pleasant enough, but not sufficiently interesting to sway my opinion.

The two Derek Strahan items sound as though the microphone is inside the instrument, so strident is the sound, complete with a slight flutter in evidence.

The Fandango by Ann Carr-Boyd is the one item on this disc that I listened to with pleasure, although at just under five minutes it is not sufficient justification for purchase. Her subsequent piano piece is also not bad, but turning in at 1’17" there is not much to appreciate.

This disc will do much less for Australia than their football, rugby or cricket teams are capable of doing. It will be retained by me to use as an example of what not to put on a CD if the object is to make sufficient sales to make the enterprise worthwhile.


John Phillips



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