The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Sculthorpe: From Irkanda III, Irkanda I, From Saibai, Djilile, Night Song, Mountains, Night Pieces, Little Passacaglia, Sometimes when I’m Dreaming, Four Little Pieces
Sunday, 01 July 2007
Ema Alexeeva (violin) David Apellániz (cello) Ananda Sukarlen (piano)
Verso VRS 2036
It is surprising that the music of the Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe has not made more inroads into the standard repertoire: this disc spanning 50 years of his chamber output has that listener-friendly and immediate attraction that characterises his output. Irkanda III has had an unusual life: when the last two movements went missing the composer decided to reshape the remaining movement into its present self-contained form. Scored for piano trio, it is a strongly rhythmic structure with jazz influences. It forms part of a series with the same name, the first for solo violin coming at the beginning of his mature period. It is here played with much beauty by Ema Alexeeva [DOES THE BOOKLET SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HER?], bringing an erotic passion to the high-flying passages that recalls Szymanowski. She is equally persuasive in the extensive From Saibai, where the piano part is reminiscent of Messiaen’s bird music and forms the backdrop around which the violin line is woven.
Djilile is pure Aboriginal, its theme taken from an Arnhem Land chant, and the cello’s rhapsodic role creating a web of sound circling the repetitive piano. David Apellániz’s [DITTO] cello playing is here eloquent in its judicious use of portamento, introducing a quasi-vocal aspect to the score.
The excellent reassembles for the sad Night Song, with the disc’s remaining items given to inventive and descriptive works for solo piano played by Ananada Sukarlan with an innate feel for Sculthorpe’s style of writing.
The recording from the Spanish Verso label is good, well balanced and in a realistic acoustic.
From the July 2007 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.