Music / “Written on Water”, BlockSounds, with Walking the Dog, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, March 31. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.
MUSIC and nature are closely linked, and that showed in this concert titled “Written on Water”, a selection of music from the 16th to the 21st century that took the audience on a watery journey.
Beginning with a melancholy tune for both BlockSounds and Walking the Dog, “Let the Sea make a noise”, by William Mundy, flowed like cool slow running water.
The performers in BlockSounds were Olivia Gossip, Elana Leske, Shea Leske and Robyn Mellor, who is also the director. In Walking the Dog, Nick Horn, Valerie Jackson, Ann Nevile and Anna Weatherly all played various recorders.
“Turtle Beach”, by Simon Wade for solo recorder, played by Mellor on her Ganassi recorder, which sounded like a cross between a flute and a shakuhachi made this bright, jumpy piece echo cleanly through Mellor’s virtuosic playing in the chapel of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.
The lovely tonal composition of “Deep Sea Perspective” by Benjamin Thorn, sounded like it was written by someone who knows how to write idiomatically for the recorder. All players voiced out with authority in this bright and attractive piece that was awash with counter melodies.
“Alpine Suite” by Benjamin Britten for recorder trio, played by Mellor and the Leske sisters on upper register recorders, is a sprightly composition in six short movements. This tricky and entertaining work echoed with the sound of an Alpine holiday where winter and water abounds. It ticked along at a brisk rate, especially the “Moto perpetuo: Down the Piste”, and all precisely played.
The king of recorder music in this reviewers opinion is Georg Philipp Telemann. He had an innate ability to write clearly and effectively for the recorder. In his “Wassermusic”, also in six parts, it’s a beautifully complex piece that was arranged from his orchestral suite for recorder quartet and octet. The whole work washed over the audience and Telemann never sounded better.
“Oceania” by Jan Van der Roost is a contemporary work that consisted of the players blowing into the labium to create wave like sounds. The multi-phonics and various other techniques simulated what sounded like whale song interspersed between flutter-tonguing and several tunes that echoed of songs from old seafaring days. This atmospheric piece emulated the direct feeling of an ocean.
Australian composer Malcolm Tattersall created a musical vision of the Franklin River in his piece of the same name. A lively composition with bird-like calls, played on solo alto recorder by Mellor is a tribute to one of Australia’s unique rivers. Made more effective by the strong winds outside the chapel; Mellor owned this piece.
“Super Storm” by Lance Eccles, while imbued with Bach-like style, might not have chosen the recorder as the best medium to represent a storm, but it was effective enough to give a listener a good representation of floods, downpours and hailstorms.
The remaining three works, “Written on Water” by Alan Davis, “Pluit” by Ian Farquhar and songs by Frederick Delius “To be sung of a summer night on the water” ended this uniquely programmed concert with a splash of water inspired music that displayed the versatility of the recorder, especially when in the hands of players like these.