Author Topic: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - 2014)  (Read 38182 times)

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Sid James

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #40 on: June 08, 2011, 07:55:12 PM »
@ eyeresist (this is more of a general statement about the state of things on this forum, not really directed against you personally) -

Let me say on the outset that it's good to have another Australian on the forum (besides myself and the guy from W.A. who used to be called Conor - I think he's called mooyaj now, something like that?).

But I think we should be looking at the positives of Austalian (or any other) music in general rather than taking things apart bit by bit and arguing about (what I see as) not particularly useful semantics. I don't really care about technical things that are really above my head, it's the musicians that have to care about these things - it's their job. When listening to a new piece I just try to get out of it what I can. Even if I feel it's like 5 per cent, then at least the performer or composer has given me that much, put in great effort, to just give me that small gift of their talent and hard work. As I said, in comparison to my "real life" discussions on music with musicians and music lovers I know - from close friends to acquaintances, work colleagues, or just 5 minute conversations with the musicians after concerts - some of the attitudes on this forum come across to me to be in another universe, on another planet. The people I talk to in "real life" don't argue endlessly and bicker about trivial things. Some are more opinionated or "oddball" than others, but that's just life. But even with the few people at more extreme ends of the spectrum, I find it quite easy to reach "middle ground." Not so here. Endless arguments about composers, eras, performers, and more. Of course, some positive things do happen here, that's part of the reason why it's not a bad thing to participate in some way. But in the end, aren't we all batting for the same team? If you like Beethoven's 5th symphony, does it really matter who plays it?...

eyeresist

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #41 on: June 08, 2011, 08:19:56 PM »
When listening to a new piece I just try to get out of it what I can. Even if I feel it's like 5 per cent, then at least the performer or composer has given me that much, put in great effort, to just give me that small gift of their talent and hard work. As I said, in comparison to my "real life" discussions on music with musicians and music lovers I know - from close friends to acquaintances, work colleagues, or just 5 minute conversations with the musicians after concerts - some of the attitudes on this forum come across to me to be in another universe, on another planet. The people I talk to in "real life" don't argue endlessly and bicker about trivial things. Some are more opinionated or "oddball" than others, but that's just life. But even with the few people at more extreme ends of the spectrum, I find it quite easy to reach "middle ground." Not so here. Endless arguments about composers, eras, performers, and more. Of course, some positive things do happen here, that's part of the reason why it's not a bad thing to participate in some way. But in the end, aren't we all batting for the same team? If you like Beethoven's 5th symphony, does it really matter who plays it?...

I think there's only so far you can go if you determine to only focus on the positive. A discussion that goes "This thing is good," "Yes, it is good. This other thing is also good," Yes, it is good," can only go so far. For me, the really interesting discussions here happen when differing opinions are aired, with thought and with respect for the validity of alternative views.  You will also find that people can even be critical of music or composers they love, and it's not a negative thing, it's actually a kind of affection. After all, real love doesn't mean thinking the loved one is flawless, it means seeing all the flaws and accepting them.
 
« Last Edit: June 08, 2011, 08:27:57 PM by eyeresist »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #42 on: June 08, 2011, 08:40:06 PM »
I think there's only so far you can go if you determine to only focus on the positive. A discussion that goes "This thing is good," "Yes, it is good. This other thing is also good," Yes, it is good," can only go so far. For me, the really interesting discussions here happen when differing opinions are aired, with thought and with respect for the validity of alternative views.  You will also find that people can even be critical of music or composers they love, and it's not a negative thing, it's actually a kind of affection. After all, real love doesn't mean thinking the loved one is flawless, it means seeing all the flaws and accepting them.

Yes, this is a good point. I find many flaws in the composers I love, but these flaws can also act as a way of finding the positive aspects of their music too. In fact, we love the composers we love because they are flawed. But if we do love the composer then naturally we're going to gravitate towards what they excelled at rather than focus on the music they didn't do so well in.

Like, for example, Lindberg couldn't write a tune if his life depended on it, but I don't listen to Lindberg for "tunes," I listen for harmony, the orchestral color, and the downright exuberance his music projects. Also he is, in my mind, one of the finest orchestrators working today.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2011, 08:43:43 PM by Mirror Image »
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Sid James

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #43 on: June 08, 2011, 09:23:10 PM »
This conversation has crystallised how I see music, which is in a simple way, based on actual experience rather than theory. Let me relate an experience I had when I attended a premiere of one of Sculthorpe's works here at Sydney Conservatorium of Music last year.

The man was there himself, and talked about the work in some detail, for about 15 minutes. It was not technical information but more the background of the work and how he came to compose it, and the images and "world view" that he was trying to express in it. All I remember is that it was a work for string orchestra. There was a woman next to me in the audience who I had not met before, but she was very moved by this work. This was the first half of the concert, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra followed in the second half. Anyway, I found out after the Sculthorpe piece that she had relatively little experience with classical music, she had just come along to the concert because she read about it in the newspaper. Anyway, this woman went up to Mr Sculthorpe and thanked him for being a kind of musical ambassador for our country. She hugged him and he kissed her on the cheek. This man, who has had accolades from the "highest" musical quarters in this country and over the world, was clearly quite moved by how his music affected this ordinary person. I was just witness to this, I didn't say anything. Basically, one can listen to all of Sculthorpe's cd's or read all the books about him, but this kind of moment taught me more about the man and his music than any textbook or theoretical analysis ever will. I leave these things to the expert musicians who were playing on the stage, students in the final year of their studies at the con, and their conductor who was Dr Imre Pallo, one of the senior staff there (this Hungarian guy has worked with the likes of Kodaly). As a listener, I aim to retain the "purity" of vision of this ordinary woman, who connected with the man and his music (with little experience musically, but the real experience that matters, imo, is LIFE EXPERIENCE!!!). I'm not interested in the (sorry) pseudo-intellectual waffle.

I think this true story says all what I'm saying, and tells me how I'm not on the same wavelength as some of the members of this forum. Often, it's like in "real life" conversations about music or other things I'm on firm(er) ground, whereas when I log on here, I'm like visiting a totally different planet...
« Last Edit: June 08, 2011, 09:25:36 PM by Sid James »

eyeresist

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #44 on: June 08, 2011, 10:44:20 PM »
You seem to be saying that anything that is not gushing praise is "pseudo-intellectual waffle".

I hope you don't think I approach music in a coldly intellectual way. My musical opinions are very much shaped by my emotional reactions. Thinking comes much later, when attempting to explain to myself why I like (or don't like) something. But in order to figure this out, evaluation is unavoidable. Does the piece feel too long (or too short)? Is this melody fresh or banal? How do I feel about the underlying attitude I perceive in the music (aggressive, sentimental, mystical, grand, intellectual)?
Do you ever ask yourself these kinds of things, or are all questions forbidden?

Sorry I have led this thread so far off topic, BTW.
 

Sid James

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #45 on: June 09, 2011, 12:55:13 AM »
@ eyeresist (& also philocletes, mirror image, sorry i didn't have time to address your ideas seperately, i just put that story here to think about, as it's about Sculthorpe, but also about wider things) -

You are making good points, but what that experience seeing Sculthorpe and the other audience member's reaction taught me was that often all of these technical & theoretical things just get in the way of getting in touch with the music in a more direct way. I mean, I have read Sculthorpe's autobiography (called "Sun Music" after that piece, published about 10 years ago, I'm not sure if he's done a new edition). But even before reading that, I could clearly hear the influence of Messiaen & Varese in his music. Takemitsu was a third one he named in the book, but I wasn't familiar enough with his music to make the connection. Sculthorpe mentions these three as defining influences on his style, but even before I read his own words about this, I could clearly hear the "vibe" or feel of the two Frenchmen in the music I was listening to. But by the same token, Sculthorpe's music is also totally different - as I said in one of my posts above, he often images the Australian landscape. So "my way" or first experience of his music was related to other composers whose music I knew (& I knew them less in a theoretical way, but more intuitive). The woman at the concert or the friend overseas who I sent one of his cd's to didn't have that kind of background knowledge or whatever you'd call it, but it really doesn't matter. What it boils down to is the individual listener making sense of and approaching music in their own unique way. I just come to each composer or performer for that matter on their own terms. I've had enough of intellectuallising and all that stuff. It doesn't really mean much to me now, maybe it did in the past, but I'm over it.

Anyway, I know MI is a big fan of Sculthorpe's music, and also Aussie music in general. But if you or others aren't, it might be a good idea to seek out other Australian composers in any way you could. A lot of what I've heard from them was on radio here in Sydney, and also in concerts. You don't have to own stacks of cd's to get your head around Australian music, or any music for that matter. This issue is broader than this thread, you're right. I actually deregistered off my old name (Sid) on the weekend. I came back here to just contribute in my own way, particularly in the area of Aussie composers and performers. I listen to all kinds of music from ancient to modern, from serious to light (if one wants to attach labels, another thing which I think is of no use to me, the way I appreciate music). I go to concerts here in Sydney on a fairly regular basis, to see what our great musicians do. I think I will continue to contribute to the "concerts" thread, but that'll be just about it. My philosophy or "vibe" regarding music, and probably quite a few other things, seems to be seriously at odds with many people on this forum. As I said, compared to most of my real life exchanges with people I know about music (& other things) this forum is another universe, another planet. This isn't a value judgement, it's not a matter of black or white, right or wrong, it's more subtle. So this is "it" for me, at least for a while, but I may write concert reviews on that thread, since there are a number of people interested in Australian things here...

DavidW

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #46 on: June 09, 2011, 02:40:35 AM »
Sid, if you wish to participate in a discussion that involves less contrast and comparison between recordings and more discussion about theory, composers and performers you should try classical.net's moderated mailing list.  It's strictly moderated, each message takes the form of an insightful essay.  Even grammatical errors will result in your message not being submitted to the list.  Very deep discussion, it should be right up your alley. :)

http://www.classical.net/music/subscrib.php

Please don't blame us or harbor ill feelings because we don't approach classical music discussion the same way that you do.  I would wish that you accept us for who we are, and contribute to this forum in your own way.  Expecting us to change to suit you is unreasonable and will only cause grief on your part.  Please stay this time... we have cookies! ;D

 :)

karlhenning

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #47 on: June 09, 2011, 03:57:18 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).

Thanks for this.

Your comment makes it all the more . . . amusing . . . that the entire clip for Earth Cry on the Amazon page consists of didjeridoo
; )

karlhenning

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #48 on: June 09, 2011, 04:08:46 AM »
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.

Gosh, maybe the problem is not calling some music "second-rate" (which I find either informative — because honestly, not all music can be be great . . . if it's all great, then none of it is great — or a challenge . . . Really? Maybe I want to hear this myself, and see if I agree that the music is shy of greatness) but of those of us who are enthusiastic for relatively lesser-known composers not getting our heckles up because, gosh, not everyone else is swimmingly enamoored of the music.

I'll repeat a story which I once read in a Machlis text (I think), of a sophomore complaining that they were going to spend part of the class studying Mendelssohn. "But isn't he second-rate?" The professor considered a second, and answered, "Yes, certainly, but I am not at all sure that you understand how frightfully good that is."

 
If I am so Kool-Aided up with, say, Langgaard (some days it seems I am on a course to accrue recordings of as much of his output as possible) that, if anyone were to remark that he is a second-rate composer, I get all bent out of joint because of the Iscariot-like denial of my favorite composer's Genius — the problem is not the other guy's "negativity," but that I need to take a tranquilizer. (Usually a tumbler of Bushmill's does the trick for me.)

eyeresist

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #49 on: June 09, 2011, 03:09:41 PM »
Karl, the calming voice of reason as usual. How the hell does he do that?

I should really apologise for my original post, not because it was negative but because I didn't really justify my opinion. Apart from the fact that I really just find the music too aggravating to listen to it again and assemble a critical opinion, I must be honest and admit the post was partly motivated by frustration at being unable to voice my negative opinions on certain more prominent composers (for fear of being jumped on by the right-thinkers). And there was little unknown Sculthorpe, an easy target. So not to retract my opinion, but admittedly my motives for the post were less than well thought-out, and not entirely fair.

BTW, if Sid wants those cookies, he'd better hurry  *munch munch*

Offline Amfortas

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #50 on: June 24, 2011, 08:14:45 AM »
I just heard a tremendous live performance of "Kakadu" by the Sydney Symphony Orch, Vladimir Ashkenazy is a fantastic conductor.
You can hear it here for one more day (it's labeled as a Prokofiev concert, but begins with the Sculthorpe, Bax and others):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0120815/Through_the_Night_24_06_2011/
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #51 on: June 26, 2011, 06:23:57 PM »
I just heard a tremendous live performance of "Kakadu" by the Sydney Symphony Orch, Vladimir Ashkenazy is a fantastic conductor.
You can hear it here for one more day (it's labeled as a Prokofiev concert, but begins with the Sculthorpe, Bax and others):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0120815/Through_the_Night_24_06_2011/

I wonder how much Sculthorpe, Vine, Meale, Dean, Edwards, etc. Ashkenazy has conducted so far? I wish Ashkenazy would release a whole recording of Australian classical music.
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #52 on: May 08, 2012, 09:05:43 PM »
I thought it was time to resurrect this thread. I've been listening to a lot of Sculthorpe's music again. I have come to the conclusion that I think he's one of the finest composers of the second half of the 20th Century. I read through a lot of these posts on this thread again and I have to say that I really miss former GMG member Sid a lot. He always provided insightful commentary and even though he and I sometimes fought like cats and dogs, I always valued his opinion.

To perhaps get the conversation flowing again, what are everybody's favorite Sculthorpe compositions?
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 09:19:57 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #53 on: May 09, 2012, 01:05:19 AM »
As an Aussie I have to say Sculthorpe is an inescapable part of the Australian music scene, and deservedly so. He has written a lot of works over many decades and many of these are very good. They have gone in and out of fashion and in and out of the classical recorded catalogue. In many ways he's quite an an old-fashioned composer--the centre of the Sydney music scene a lot of his works are written for live performances and various musical occasions and he has a life more like Haydn than most modern composers. If you look at what's available of his on CD you'll find the orchestral pieces (Earth Cry, Kakadu, Piano Concert, Sun Music, Irkanda &c &c, and then a whole lot of pieces for piano, choir and other instrumental groups scattered in ones and twos over dozens of CDs which are of music by multiple composers). If he had written only symphonies, or only string quartets, then people would have more of an idea of the range and scale of his work.

I pretty much like everything he's written, but one disk stands out, it's the Tall Poppies Volume 3 of the String Quartets (Nos 14, 15, 16, 17). These are just great music, as good as anything in music, they're in the league of the Bartok, Shostakovitch, Tippett, Simpson string quartets. If you can get this one Sculthorpe disk you'll understand what a great composer he is.

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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #54 on: May 09, 2012, 05:13:40 AM »
OOH, two Canberrans posting in succession! What are the chances?  ;D

Funny thing is, even though I'm well aware of Sculthorpe's reputation and even though I've been to a TALK by him at some point in the past, I can't say I know very much of his music at all.

The only thing I've ever known well was the piano piece "Mountains" which I learnt and certainly enjoyed - and yet, just now I had to go pull it out of the music collection because I didn't recall the name.
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #55 on: May 09, 2012, 06:56:42 AM »
As an Aussie I have to say Sculthorpe is an inescapable part of the Australian music scene, and deservedly so. He has written a lot of works over many decades and many of these are very good. They have gone in and out of fashion and in and out of the classical recorded catalogue. In many ways he's quite an an old-fashioned composer--the centre of the Sydney music scene a lot of his works are written for live performances and various musical occasions and he has a life more like Haydn than most modern composers. If you look at what's available of his on CD you'll find the orchestral pieces (Earth Cry, Kakadu, Piano Concert, Sun Music, Irkanda &c &c, and then a whole lot of pieces for piano, choir and other instrumental groups scattered in ones and twos over dozens of CDs which are of music by multiple composers). If he had written only symphonies, or only string quartets, then people would have more of an idea of the range and scale of his work.

I pretty much like everything he's written, but one disk stands out, it's the Tall Poppies Volume 3 of the String Quartets (Nos 14, 15, 16, 17). These are just great music, as good as anything in music, they're in the league of the Bartok, Shostakovitch, Tippett, Simpson string quartets. If you can get this one Sculthorpe disk you'll understand what a great composer he is.

One of the things I admire about Sculthorpe is the fact he didn't write any symphonies or ever felt the need to. I mean this medium has been exhausted IMHO and I'm sure Sculthorpe has purposely avoided it because he knew there was nothing he could say that hasn't been said already. What he has done instead is create worlds of orchestral brilliance and color by making the music he wanted to make and that isn't constricted to classical forms. In fact, I think, even though he respects the old masters, he felt he had to forge his own path which I think he's done. He's the only Australian composer I can think of whose music actually evokes the country's landscape. His music is descriptive and it really sounds like no one else. One work I've been really enamored with lately is his Piano Concerto. What a beautiful, haunting work.

I'm ashamed to say I haven't heard any of his SQs, but I'm not a big fan of the genre anyway, but I would like to hear his String Quartet No. 8 which seems to have been recorded a few times.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 07:00:22 AM by Mirror Image »
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #56 on: May 09, 2012, 07:05:59 AM »

 
This came in the mail today and just finished listening to it. What a smoking performance! Man somebody needs to hose this CD off!  8)

Just listened to this baby and it is very good indeed! Considering how I did not like Antill, etc., I wasn't expecting much. But I really like it!
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #57 on: May 09, 2012, 07:13:38 AM »
. . . I mean this medium [the symphony] has been exhausted IMHO . . . .

What an extraordinary remark, even as an opinion.
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #58 on: May 09, 2012, 07:22:41 AM »
Just listened to this baby and it is very good indeed! Considering how I did not like Antill, etc., I wasn't expecting much. But I really like it!

Yeah, that's a GREAT recording, Paul! Antill is nothing like Sculthorpe. The two composers couldn't be any different from each other. Almost like night and day really. I like every work on that recording.
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Re: Peter Sculthorpe (1929 - )
« Reply #59 on: May 09, 2012, 07:27:00 AM »
What an extraordinary remark, even as an opinion.

Well, at least he didn't day the medium of classical music has been exhausted. Hehee...

Agree that is a rather ... uh ... remark... especially considering the dude does listen to quite a bit of fairly new music.

But I know what you mean, John. But the same opinion was aired a hundred years ago and aren't we glad they were wrong?
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