PETER SCULTHORPE (b.1929): String Quartets Nos. 14 "Quamby" and 15-17.
Catalogue Number: 11L085
Label: Tall Poppies
Description: Sculthorpe's most recent quartets hail from the past decade. Extramusical themes of human rights, Australian nationalism and landscape, nature and song are all present in the composer's tough yet melodic, Pacific-rim inflected tonal language. Quamby is based on a romanticized legend of colonial guilt over a massacre of Tasmanian aboriginals; tense and obsessive outer movements frame pastoral landscape-painting with imitated birdsong. No. 15's five movements are inspired by native New Guinea music of the Simori people, scattered by occupation and development of their lands. Characteristic rhythms and scales rather than strict quotation give the music its particular flavor. The Sixteenth is concerned with the plight of refugees, and adopts as raw melodic material an Afghani song, in five movements offering different emotional responses to the inhumanity shown to various groups of people throughout the world and throughout history. Birdsong is again used as a metaphor for freedom and the music is alternately heartbreakingly eloquent and furiously trenchant. No. 17 is based on Beethoven's Müss es sein? motif, and marks an interesting personal reconciliation for a composer who once publicly stated that he never cared to hear another note of Beethoven! The piece consists of three songlike movements framed by a prelude and postlude; there is a straightforward simplicity in the music's slightly melancholy emotional directness. Goldner String Quartet.