Sculthorpe/Westlake

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Sculthorpe/Westlake
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Nourlangie; From Kakadu; Into the Dreaming; Antarctica
PERFORMER: John Williams (guitar)LSO/Paul Daniel, Australian CO/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: SK 53361 DDD
The contribution of John Williams, always first-rate, is the common denominator in the four works here. Peter Sculthorpe’s Nourlangie is scored for solo guitar with strings and percussion, and the remaining two Sculthorpe pieces, written for Williams, are for guitar alone. All three works belong with the composer’s extensive series of evocations of Australian landscape and its pre-European history; Sculthorpe’s writing is contemplative and devotional, never attempting to depict the natural world in a programmatic way, but much more concerned with mapping the composer’s personal response to it. It is far more than travelogue; the musical world parallels rather than imitates the real one. There is so little of Sculthorpe’s substantial output available on disc in the northern hemisphere it would have made sense to have completed this disc with more of his music. The space is given over instead to Nigel Westlake’s Antarctica, an overlong suite for guitar and orchestra derived from the score he wrote for an Australian documentary film of the same name. In contrast to the Sculthorpe pieces, Westlake’s music never rises above the level of anecdote, but it is expertly scored and decently paced, and doubtless seemed absolutely right when the cinema screen was presenting endless vistas of icebergs and parades of penguins. Andrew Clements

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