Author Topic: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - 2014)  (Read 38184 times)

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2010, 05:18:39 PM »
Yes, the late Stuart Challender (who rather tragically died of AIDS in the early '90's) certainly had a way with Australian music. I remember seeing him conduct, and yes, he was very energetic and fiery. Kakadu is my favourite work on that cd, it perfectly conjures up the lushness of the rainforest, and the animal life there (particularly the waterbirds). It's interesting how in works like Mangrove, there is a predominance of low notes, mirroring the flatness of that kind of landscape. Sculthorpe writes about these things in his autobiography Sun Music, which you might like to read.

& yes, I did hear his Requiem on a radio broadcast anchored by the man himself in his 80th year (last year). I remember it as being quite minimalistic and interesting, because I had never heard a choral work by him before. My local library network has it, and I will borrow it at some stage for more deeper listening...

Thanks for the information, Sid. I did not know that about Stuart Challender. That is truly heartbreaking, because I have his Vine performances as well and there's such a passion there in the music and you can feel it no question about it.
 
I'm about to pickup another Sculthorpe disc. Have you seen or heard this one:
 

 
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2010, 05:30:17 PM »
Well, maybe the cause of Challender's death is not much talked about, because there's still a bit of a stigma surrounding AIDS? I'm not sure, but I remember hearing a broadcast of his memorial service from the Sydney Town Hall. I think it was 1992, the year we also lost the artist Brett Whiteley from a drug overdose. But a thing which Sculthorpe and Challender had in common was that they both came from Tasmania - make of that what you will?

I have heard bits of the Australia Chamber Orchestra disc you got, on radio broadcasts. These are interesting works, particularly the string sonatas. Port Essington contrasts Aboriginal and European musics to tell a story about the white colonisation (invasion?) of this continent. It is considered one of his best programmatic works. I have seen this ensemble perform Sculthorpe (he usually writes something for them to premiere each year). He has had a good relationship with them, not only with current (for the last 20 years) director Richard Tognetti, but also their last director, Carl Pini (who's still active in chamber music circles) who's more of his generation. Another group who he's written for is the Goldner String Quartet, who have recorded all of his 18 string quartets to date...

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2010, 05:54:24 PM »
Well, maybe the cause of Challender's death is not much talked about, because there's still a bit of a stigma surrounding AIDS? I'm not sure, but I remember hearing a broadcast of his memorial service from the Sydney Town Hall. I think it was 1992, the year we also lost the artist Brett Whiteley from a drug overdose. But a thing which Sculthorpe and Challender had in common was that they both came from Tasmania - make of that what you will?

I have heard bits of the Australia Chamber Orchestra disc you got, on radio broadcasts. These are interesting works, particularly the string sonatas. Port Essington contrasts Aboriginal and European musics to tell a story about the white colonisation (invasion?) of this continent. It is considered one of his best programmatic works. I have seen this ensemble perform Sculthorpe (he usually writes something for them to premiere each year). He has had a good relationship with them, not only with current (for the last 20 years) director Richard Tognetti, but also their last director, Carl Pini (who's still active in chamber music circles) who's more of his generation. Another group who he's written for is the Goldner String Quartet, who have recorded all of his 18 string quartets to date...

Port Essington sounds very interesting. Can't wait to hear it. After I receive this recording, I will have 6 Sculthorpe recordings, which I'm proud to say there's not a bad one in the bunch. :)
 
I think there's one more Sculthorpe recording I need to get on ABC Classics and I think Challender is the conductor.
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2010, 07:23:09 AM »

I'm about to pickup another Sculthorpe disc. Have you seen or heard this one:
 


This is the only "all-Sculthorpe" CD I have, and it's excellent.  (I bought it years ago, in its earlier incarnation, with the cover design below.)

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #24 on: November 17, 2010, 08:29:33 AM »
This is the only "all-Sculthorpe" CD I have

You should definitely checkout more of his music, Bruce.
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Offline Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #25 on: November 30, 2010, 06:20:02 AM »
I like Quamby for full orchestra, which is on the ABC Aussie Composers CD. Reminds me a bit of RVW Antarctica, in parts it's unforgiving and dark.

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2010, 08:24:25 PM »
I like Quamby for full orchestra, which is on the ABC Aussie Composers CD. Reminds me a bit of RVW Antarctica, in parts it's unforgiving and dark.


Quamby is a great work. What other Sculthorpe compositions do you enjoy?
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Offline Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2010, 05:57:10 AM »
Quamby/Cello Dreaming/Nourlangie/Music for Bali



I must admit I haven't carefully listened (just once, some time ago) to the other works. I think I'll try Nourlangie today again.
What on this CD and in general do you recommend for those of usw ho are following the late romantic path with maybe Shostakovich as the climax? But please not too avantgardistic :)


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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #28 on: December 17, 2010, 05:29:17 PM »
Quamby/Cello Dreaming/Nourlangie/Music for Bali



I must admit I haven't carefully listened (just once, some time ago) to the other works. I think I'll try Nourlangie today again.
What on this CD and in general do you recommend for those of us who are following the late romantic path with maybe Shostakovich as the climax? But please not too avantgardistic :)


That's a fine disc. Cello Dreaming is the finest work on that recording in my opinion, but the other works are fine as well.


I would try to track down all of his ABC Classics recordings, especially the one with the late Stuart Challender conducting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. You may want to try this recording (very cheap by the way) with James Judd/New Zealand Symphony Orch. on Naxos:


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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2010, 12:11:09 AM »
I will second that Naxos recording. It has the best recording of the piano concerto out there (I've heard about six or seven different recordings of it), along with competitive readings of other popular orchestral works of his. William Barton adds a nice didjeridoo solo to Earth Cry, but to me, it is really unnecessary. Tamara Anna Cislowski is the real star, though, and she played the hell out of the piece here (it's even better than her early recording on ABC Classics).
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #30 on: December 18, 2010, 07:57:19 PM »
I will second that Naxos recording. It has the best recording of the piano concerto out there (I've heard about six or seven different recordings of it), along with competitive readings of other popular orchestral works of his. William Barton adds a nice didjeridoo solo to Earth Cry, but to me, it is really unnecessary. Tamara Anna Cislowski is the real star, though, and she played the hell out of the piece here (it's even better than her early recording on ABC Classics).


I like the original version of Earth Cry with no didjeridoo. The best performance of this work I've heard is from an ABC recording with Stuart Challender conducting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2011, 04:59:25 PM »
Time to revive this thread after a hiatus from Sculthorpe's music. I have to say that each time I return to his music I hear a unique compositional voice. One that was unafraid to compose the music he wanted to without worrying about what the "establishment" thought about him. I really think that many of his works are worthy of repertoire status. Works like Earth Cry would be a great way to open a concert. It has such powerful rhythms and an aggressive drive to it that it will surely attract fans of Bartok's music. I just got through listening to Cello Dreaming again and I'm still stunned by this work each time I hear it. It's remarkable in its textures, but also by the straightforwardness of the main melody, which found throughout the work. I just like the structure and sound of the work. This could easily be repertoire piece for cellist across the world, but alas, people don't seem to be doing all they can to support music of today. There's a lot of good music out there you just have to find it. There are still composers like Salonen, Sculthorpe, Vine, Lindberg who are working in a tonal idiom and breathing new life into it. They all favor their dissonance, but this is just a natural part of the succession from music of the 20th Century.

For those who enjoy Sculthorpe's music, how do you feel about his music? Do you wish there were more recordings that existed like I do? It seems that ABC Classics are the only ones that continue to promote his music, but those discs are so expensive that many people simply can't afford to hear his music. I was lucky to have bought several of the ABC recordings at good prices when I did, but I would love to hear James Judd continue his foray into Sculthorpe's music. I think he could really work wonders with this composer.
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eyeresist

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2011, 05:28:32 PM »
I have three of the ABC discs, which were made available in a box sleeve. I'm afraid I don't think much of Sculthorpe; he is a diligent worker, but I find his ideas consistently second rate and ultimately tedious. It is a shame this guy is the most prominent Australian composer. Of course, as I am Australian, this could be what we call "cultural cringe"!
 

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2011, 05:43:02 PM »
@ eyeresist -

Well I was just talking to a guy I came across last week who was a professional musician in a "former life" and he said that in studying and playing both of their (& many other's) music, he thought that Sculthorpe was just a unique composer as Messiaen. I never thought of it like that, I'm not a musician of any sort, but I do come across quite a few regularly. I have never heard any of them dissing great musicians or composers as I do some people on this forum (this is not a personal attack on you, just on the "vibe" of this forum, in some respects it comes across to me as being a "paralell universe" to music appreciation and music making in "real life," which is always more positive than this)...

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2011, 06:04:47 PM »
@ eyeresist -

Well I was just talking to a guy I came across last week who was a professional musician in a "former life" and he said that in studying and playing both of their (& many other's) music, he thought that Sculthorpe was just a unique composer as Messiaen. I never thought of it like that, I'm not a musician of any sort, but I do come across quite a few regularly. I have never heard any of them dissing great musicians or composers as I do some people on this forum (this is not a personal attack on you, just on the "vibe" of this forum, in some respects it comes across to me as being a "paralell universe" to music appreciation and music making in "real life," which is always more positive than this)...

I totally agree, Sid. It's time for people on this forum to stop with the negativity. Calling Sculthorpe's musical ideas "second rate" tells me more about the poster than it does Sculthorpe. Having heard a lot of his music, I don't hear second-rate ideas, I hear a man bearing his soul to the listener. I hear a great vulnerability in his music. Music is something that's very personal for me, but I think if you don't like a composer's music, then a person needs to keep their thoughts to themselves unless asked. We're all guilty of this time to time, some more than others, but I think people should focus on the music they truly love instead of the music they dislike.

Anyway back to Scultorpe's music!
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2011, 06:11:39 PM »
Anyone heard the Brodsky cd?

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2011, 06:42:12 PM »
C'mon, guys, don't jump on me like that! It's not like I'm going to do a James on this thread. Just giving my honest evaluation, and I thought you might be interested in an Australian opinion.

BTW, here's an odd piece of news:

Quote
His Majesty the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, has awarded the Encomienda de la Orden de Isabel la Católica to Peter Sculthorpe. The award was conferred at a ceremony in Canberra on 14 May 2011.

http://www.petersculthorpe.com.au/

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #37 on: June 08, 2011, 06:44:29 PM »
C'mon, guys, don't jump on me like that! It's not like I'm going to do a James on this thread. Just giving my honest evaluation, and I thought you might be interested in an Australian opinion.

Sid is Australian.
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #38 on: June 08, 2011, 06:50:59 PM »
Quote
Calling Sculthorpe's musical ideas "second rate" tells me more about the poster than it does Sculthorpe. Having heard a lot of his music, I don't hear second-rate ideas, I hear a man bearing his soul to the listener. I hear a great vulnerability in his music...

I haven't heard a huge amount of Sculthorpe's music - what I have on disc is summed up on my earlier posts on this thread. I have heard quite a few of his works live in the concert halls - premieres - but I forget the specifics. However, what I've heard of his music, it does come across to me to be very enjoyable on many levels. I particularly like how he has a "knack" for imaging the Australian landscape, from the harsh and dry outback (Sun Musics), to the jungle/rainforest areas (Kakadu Suite), to the beautiful seashore which wraps around this island continent (Fifth Continent). If I can see all of those images in his music, it mustn't be that bad at all. I even sent a disc of his orchestral music overseas to a dear friend of mine, who has kind of been getting into classical for the past decade, and this friend absolutely loved it! The friend "saw" so many images in his music! If he can reach out with these quite complex works to even those who are beginning to get into classical, then I think the man's doing something right?...

I totally agree, Sid. It's time for people on this forum to stop with the negativity....Music is something that's very personal for me, but I think if you don't like a composer's music, then a person needs to keep their thoughts to themselves unless asked. We're all guilty of this time to time, some more than others, but I think people should focus on the music they truly love instead of the music they dislike.

I do want to emphasise that eyeresist was saying "I find" - eg. telling it like he sees it, which is fine by me. I just don't like his mentioning of the "cultural cringe." I have written above that quite a lot of Sculthorpe's early music from the '60's was quite innovative. You'll find the same glissandos and harmonic aspects in the Sun Musics as are in the music of Penderecki at that time. But when he wrote it, Sculthorpe had not heard any of the Polish composer's music! So there's no bottom feeder, carbon copying, "cultural cringe" there. Quite a few Australian composers have been at the forefront of experimentation & innovation. I mean nobody around here talks about the late Richard Meale, who I think is arguably our finest composer. Such a versatile talent he had. I was at a concert of two of what many regard to be his finest chamber works the string quartet "Cantilena Pacifica" and the sextet (?) Incredible Floridas. I have previously written about that concert on the concerts thread, and also reviewed the cd on "what are you listening to." Anyway, guys of that generation - Sculthorpe, Meale, Conyngham to name three - have been no slouches when it comes to writing quite experimental music. I think people should actually get out there and listen to some of these and other guys works before saying things to the effect that Australian music is not up to international standards. I'm no expert in Australian or any other music, I'm a generalist, but what I've heard on disc, radio and in concerts over the years has not struck me as being below par in any sense at all (in fact, quite the opposite)...

C'mon, guys, don't jump on me like that! It's not like I'm going to do a James on this thread. Just giving my honest evaluation, and I thought you might be interested in an Australian opinion.
 

I had written my argument above before your reply quoted here came up, I already specified that you are welcome to give your opinion, but also that I disagree with it. I'm not making things personal in any sense (I hope?). I know you emphasised this was your opinion only. I just kind of "balked" at the "cultural cringe" comment, I thought Australia was over (or at least on the way to getting over) that.

BTW - thanks for the news about the award from Spain to Mr Sculthorpe. I'm always interested in keeping abreast of stuff like this. That's one of the reason I come to these forums, despite my reservations about some member's attitudes to music in general. It's good that you looked at Sculthorpe's website, shows that you are trying to understand him or research about him, even though you're not impressed with him, from what I can gather...
« Last Edit: June 08, 2011, 06:52:55 PM by Sid James »

eyeresist

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #39 on: June 08, 2011, 07:12:22 PM »
I do want to emphasise that eyeresist was saying "I find" - eg. telling it like he sees it, which is fine by me. I just don't like his mentioning of the "cultural cringe." I have written above that quite a lot of Sculthorpe's early music from the '60's was quite innovative. You'll find the same glissandos and harmonic aspects in the Sun Musics as are in the music of Penderecki at that time. But when he wrote it, Sculthorpe had not heard any of the Polish composer's music! So there's no bottom feeder, carbon copying, "cultural cringe" there.

Sid, I think you misunderstand what I meant by cultural cringe. I meant it as a description not of the object of criticism, but rather a description of a bias of the critic against "local product". So, in this case, I worry I might have a subconscious attitude of "Oh, Sculthorpe is Australian, therefore he can't be as good as any of the foreign composers" - that attitude would be cultural cringe.

While I am nitpicking in the area of language usage... It's no good praising Sculthorpe as "unique". Unique is not the same as good. I personally am a unique individual, but a rotten composer!