All Music reviews have been published in the September edition of Fine Music Magazine.
Elements: Simon Gleeson
This debut album from musical theatre star, Simon Gleeson, will not leave anyone disappointed. Currently starring as Jean Valjean in the acclaimed new production of Cameron Mackintosh’s Les Miserables, Gleeson shows that he is a world-class singer and actor. On this recording, he has assembled songs that are a personal testament, reflecting elements of his life, as well as his stage persona. Composers and song-writers, such as Stephen Sondheim Richard Rodgers, Elton John, George Harrison, Billy Joel, Matt Alber, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, have been placed alongside each other, creating a strong selection of some of the greatest songs ever produced. Gleeson has a voice that is beautifully rich and full of colour, from the highest notes in his range to the darker low register. In each song, he tells a story with clarity and ease. A Bit of Earth and End of the World sit easily alongside iconic show songs such as Anthem (Chess), Being Alive (Company), and Bring Him Home (Les Miserables).
– Barry Walmsley
The Art of the Didgeridoo
Music for Didgeridoo and Orchestra ABC Classics 481 1909
Well there are not too many of them about but herewith a splendid collection of music composed by William Barton, Sean O’Boyle, Peter Sculthorpe, Matthew Hindson and Ross Edwards, and performed by William Barton, Delmae Barton and Matthew Doyle with the Sydney and Queensland Symphony Orchestras blending beautifully with the texture and the rhythms of the didg. The word is a Western invention probably the result of attempts to imitate the sound of the instrument. The instrument itself is recognised around the world as an iconic part of the traditional music of indigenous Australia, its rich, full tones seeing to evoke the breadth of the land itself. This album is a celebration of that ancient voice, and the music it has inspired from Australia’s great composers. As didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton explains, “The didgeridoo is a language. It is a speaking language it’s something that you’ve got to learn over many months and many years. It’s got to be a part of you and what you do”. The instrument is traditionally made from tree trunks or branches that have been hollowed out by termites; stringybark, woollybutt and red river gum are among the most common woods used. O’Boyle’s and Barton’s Concerto feature movements Earth, Wind, Water and Fire with the QSO are directed by O’Boyle. Sculthorpe’s charming Songs of Sea and Sky and Earth Cry again are accompanied by QSO with Michael Christie conducting. Barton is joined by singer Delmae Barton in a charming duet and there are many other gems. Ross Edwards’ Dawn Mantra is performed by Sydney Children’s Choir conducted by Lyn Williams, with Cantillation, soprano Jane Sheldon and other performers.
– Emyr Evans
Piano Concerto, Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 3
Nareh Arghamanyan piano, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin Alain Altinoglu conductor Pentatone PTC5186510
Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto from 1936 is a colourful, tuneful and rhapsodic work which extends the boundaries of the virtuosity of the pianist. The influence of Tchaikovsky is clear with its opening in D Flat, the use of demonic octave scale passages and frequent cadenzas with the main one at the end of the first movement, one of the most technically demanding in the entire piano literature. This has a truly Armenian flavour especially in the slow movement with its quiet opening step-moving melody metamorphosing into a glorious climatic interlude towards the end of the movement. The reprise of the opening theme of the first movement at the conclusion of the finale rounds the work off as a whole. Nareh Arghamanyan has brought a fresh and productive approach to the work which delivers a sense of spaciousness and and vivaciousness through an impressive articulation. Prokofiev’s 3rd Concerto from 1921 is by far and away the most popular of his five piano concertos. The intricate nature of this work is spellbinding and despite the fact that it lacks any long cadenzas, compared to Khachaturian’s Concerto, makes it a favourite in concert halls and a work that has enjoyed an ongoing popularity among pianists. Arghamanyan captivates the listener with her precision and vitality throughout the concerto and the scale passages towards the end of the finale which require the pianist to play two notes with one finger is stunningly completed and the SACD recording brings out these nuances superbly. The only downer on this CD is the lack of use of a flexitone in the second movement of the Khachaturian Concerto. Whilst this is not the first recording to do this, I believe that small section of the slow movement benefits from its use.
– Frank Shostakovich
vivaciousness through an impressive articulation. Prokofiev’s