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A powerful program of contemporary piano music

Margaret Legge-Wilkinson performs Birds of the Alps, a powerful program of new and not-so-new contemporary music for the piano. Photo: Theo Malikides

Music / Birds of the Alps, Margaret Legge-Wilkinson. At the Australian Centre for Culture and Christianity. June 23. Reviewed by ALANNA MACLEAN.

Pianist and composer Margaret Legge-Wilkinson presented a powerful program of new and not-so-new contemporary music for the piano that enabled some reflection on where some elements of music have gone in the last century or so.

That might mean tunes are more or less out, but feeling and atmosphere are in. Accept that and you are well on the way to appreciating some great music, carefully put together into an absorbing program.

American Nico Muhly’s A Hudson Cycle (2005) rumbled away wonderfully in a melancholy evocation of that mighty river that surrounds New York.

Lily Boulanger (sister of the great teacher and composer Nadia Boulanger and dead far too young at 25) reminded of her power in Trois Morceaux  Pour Piano (1914), strong little sketches of gardens and a procession.

Then came the more formal power of Polish composer and violinist Grazyna Bacewicz’ Sonata No 2 for Piano (1953). followed contrastingly by Stephanos Malikides’ somewhat wistful 4 Preludes (2024), pieces that owed something to reflections on the time of covid.

Legge-Wilkinson lifted the mood with two carefully observed pieces from Olivier Messiaen’s Catalogue D’Oiseaux (1956-58) Le Chocard Des Alpes and Le Loriot, both reminders of the bird life and calls outside the very chapel in which she was performing. The birds are generally very busy around there.

She concluded with a composition of her own, Meditation on These Times (2020) which was a quietly inward looking reflection written after the fires of 2019 but before the arrival of covid.

Not only was this concert a deeply satisfying one, and the audience appreciative, it was also a reminder of the uses to which the eccentric but accommodating ACCC chapel can be put.

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One Response to A powerful program of contemporary piano music

Angela Giblin says: 26 June 2024 at 12:21 pm

Yes, it’s true that the ACCC is a versatile space. Thanks for this insightful review, Alanna. I loved the program. It’s always very satisfying to experience good new or new-ish works, especially when they’re filtered by a
fine musical imagination.

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