Carl Vine is one
of the best known names in the Australian Composers Series
from ABC. This programme, recorded in 2003, shows him to be
as broad-ranging and attractively dissonant - when necessary
- as in all his other works. The Oboe Concerto for instance
seems to flirt with some Eastern-sounding roulades. Vine ensures
that the tension between the solo instrument and the orchestra
is fully maintained – with the latter picking up a tense and
angular dance pattern. At some points, so sweeping is his writing,
that Vine almost convinced me that Richard Strauss and Leonard
Bernstein were cohabiting under the same compositional roof.
He spins a limpid and leisurely slow movement, delightfully
played by Diana Doherty and returns to the dance for the sprightly
The Suite from The
Tempest consists of six compact movements. They’re all characterised
with great precision and an ear for colour. This is a very visual
and entirely stimulating work, often resplendent, sometimes
dark. The storm affords him opportunities for dashes of rhythmic
drama. The Conspirators is tensely argued, laced with
intimations of evil and harbouring an almost vicious intent.
At times he has the eye and the ear of a Prokofiev for such
matters. By contrast there’s something reflective of Debussy
in the Ferdinand and Miranda scene with its dextrous
flute delicacy. Never stinting the drama Vine takes care to
explore the conflicting human vistas in this suite.
refers to the Smith Quartet who first performed Vine’s Third
Quartet - from which this work derives. The alchemy involved
was in transforming the four instruments into a single “super”
instrument. In this larger version the rhythmic energy crackles
and the slow movement retains its haunting quality. Finally
there’s the Canzona which has the feel at least of a
concerto grosso. It possesses a stately ear for the lyric with
a real “down the ages” melody from around 6:20 presaging Elizabethan
dancerie. Later on it even generates some Nymanesque moments.
It’s a delightful work, full of fancy and excitement.
can rest assured that the playing is first class, as it’s been
with all the other examples in the series that I’ve heard so
far. On this showing the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra has nothing
to fear from its more famous Antipodean rivals.