ROSS EDWARDS (b.1943): Symphony No. 1 "Da pacem Domine", Symphony No. 4 "Star Chant".
Catalogue Number: 02J090
Label: ABC Classics
Reference: 476 6161
Description: Although both symphonies follow a formal trajectory of rising from inaudibility to climax(es) and a return to silence, they are practically mirror images of each other emotionally. Inspired by the beginning of the 1991 Gulf War and the mortal illness of Australian conductor Stuar Challender, the single-movement, 27-minute First evolves slowly over a deep, insistent rhythmic pulse as a rising and falling semitone throbs insistently, like an engine or breathing organism. A fragment of Gregorian chant works its way in and out of the proceedings (there is no chorus in this work) and climaxes are reached but the music slowly subsides and slips into dark despair. Some might think of a modal Allan Pettersson here. From 2001, Star Chant is a two-part, 32-minute description of the southern night sky (both hemispheres) in which the chorus intones European and aboriginal names for stars and constellations. The same pathway from silence to climax is travelled multiple times but the music is luminous, awestruck and celebratory and those climaxes glitter with percussion and brass, leaving you as exalted as the First does despairing. Adelaide Chamber Singers, Adelaide Philharmonic Chorus, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra; Richard Mills.