Posted by: jkirkby8712 | November 26, 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011 – more on yesterday, and an hour in ‘the’ Salon

A brief follow up from yesterday’s parliamentary proceedings. Ruth sent me a message this morning suggesting that perhaps Peter Slipper is going to compare favourably with Harry Jenkins as Speaker after all?  What have the Liberals [I assume she meant] done? 

My response was as follows:-   Hi Ruth, I might be slightly biased, but I wonder whether the performance of the Speaker was the motivating priority in the election – his appointment to the position has given the Government two extra votes, a rather big incentive I would have thought in the current political climate. Mind you, Mr Slipper was quick on the job yesterday, during another of Tony Abbott’s censure motions, and while JG was responding – I think he suspended at least three Liberals from the Chamber, and were she not Deputy Leader, I think Julie Bishop would have been given the same treatment, rather than the extra ‘warnings’ she was given – she probably deserved suspension as much as anyone. Sad to say, Tony’s deputy has a rather ‘vicious’ tongue at times!!…………………incidentally, the advantage of not working now, means more opportunity to watch/listen to Federal Parliament which I’ve taken an interest in since school days…………….I was a member of the Young Liberals for a few years, until they started to organise protests and demonstrations ‘labor union’ style, and seemed to be more focused on social functions [this was 40 years ago when a Labor Government was just a dream]……my interest drifted to that of an external observer at that point, and so continues until today’.

 

In the meantime, more news from my football team –  the Blues have selected a key position player, a running defender, and a speedy wingman arising from today’s player drafting program. Joseph Bootsma, a rebounding defender with good closing speed and a long penetrating kick. He is a team-oriented player who spoils well;  Sam Rowe, is a strongly built and athletic forward who can take strong marks and has the strength to make a contest every time he competes for the ball; and  Dylan Buckley [selected under the father/son rule], Dylan has great pace and likes to run and carry. Versatile, with effective  disposal.  He is the son of Club great, and one of my favourites from past years,  Jim Buckley, who played in the No. 16 guernsey. I hope us Carlton supporters see plenty of each of these young guys during the 2012 season.

Now late yesterday, I caught another train into the city, for yes, yet another concert – a short one this time, of just over an hour, in the Salon of the Melbourne Recital Centre. This little session featured a modern quartet of four girls [two violin, one viola and a cello of course] – modern because most of their works seem to of the more contemporary and experimental form of classical music, in fact some pure classicists would argue that it’s not classical at all!! Anyway, I’d not previously heard this group – consisting of Hilary Kleinig [Artistic Director, and on Cello], Belinda Gehlert & Emily Tulloch [on violins], and Lilian-Terri Dahlenburg [on viola]. My main attraction in going tonight, was hear Greta Bradman, the guest soprano soloist, sing. A famous name, as she was in fact the granddaughter of Australia’s greatest cricketer [Sir Donald Bradman]. His other great love was in fact music, and this was obviously where Greta inherited her own musical and singing talents from the times she spent in her grandparent’s home. Greta is described as an Australian soprano and ARIA award nominee, and is a recitalist, concert & stage performer, and recording artist with Sony Music. Previously a psychologist in training, Greta only really made ‘singing’ her full time ‘day’ job last year, and has certainly come under notice since then.  In 2009, the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ described her in this way  –  ‘ as one of Australia’s finest young singers, and as a exceedingly intelligent and perceptive musician. Her full lyric soprano voice and coloratura ability is drawing great interest and applause for it’s accuracy and unusually large vocal range, warmth and fullness of tone and its capability of great vocal sensibility and flexibility’.  Certainly in the intimacy of the Salon last night, all of those aspects were clearly evident, and at times, I was quite amazed at the height and depth of her voice  – hard to compare her with the Russian singer in La Traviata the other night, as singing completely different genres of music.

Greta Bradman joined the Zephyr Quartet in two main items tonight. Firstly a piece called ‘The Twilight of Disquietude’, music composed by Natalie Williams [an Australian composer based in the USA], and based on a poem by the early Australian writer, Christopher Brennan [1870-1921] who wrote extensively about his experience of Australia’s harsh and beautiful landscape. This piece linked the dawn of a burning summer day with the passion and intensity of love’s emotional fire. The turbulent feelings of love are an allegory for the real heat of nature’s own fire; the burning of a hot summer sun.  A few lines:-

Surely my heart the heavens at last

shall storm with fiery orisons,

and know, enthron’ed in the vast,

the fervid peace of molten suns.

The flame that feeds upon my heart

fades or flares, by wild winds controll’d:

 

Later in the program, Greta sang a series of ‘short songs’ under the title of ‘Sea Chronicles’, music composed by Paul Stanhope. This was a ‘song cycle’ for soprano and string quartet, which celebrates the various dimensions of our coastal environment. The texts and lyrics are all from works by Australian poets, and have been selected to emphasise the celebrative and reflective qualities of the sea, presenting generally, images or pictures of the sea, for contemplation, and they allowed Greta to use the full range and variations of her beautiful soprano voice in line with the diversity of the selected pieces. The extracts of the writings, and the poets used were Victor Daley [The Nightingale], Rex Ingamellis [Sea Chronicles], George Essex Evans [By The Sea], Elizabeth Riddell [Lifesaver], Adam Lindsay Gordon, whose cottage I was looking at in Ballarat last weekend [The Swimmer], and an Anonymous untitled piece about a man on a beach.  Probably the most ‘/dramatic’ of these was Riddell’s work – Paul Stanhope writes ‘The text of the central third movement, while also painting a vivid picture, has a stronger sense of narrative than the other texts; it plays out the drama of a Lifesaver who dies in the course of rescuing others. The Lifesaver can be viewed as a Christ-like figure [suggested by a veiled reference to the Bach chorale ‘O Sacred Head Sore Wounded’ in the central slow section] who sacrifices himself as an upholder of the Australian coastal lifestyle’. So ‘Sea Chronicles’ examines the notion of danger as being an essential part of the beauty and attraction of the sea. A few lines, this time from, ‘By The Sea’.

 

Come, friend of solitude, to where

the low dark jetty meets the blaze

Of Sky and waters slumbering long,

Here let us dream while ocean plays

The mystic chants of golden days’.

 

Meanwhile, the music of the Zephyr Quartet was different – I loved in particular a piece called ‘Nautilus’, composed by Hilary Kleinig herself –  a piece written about the sea, its sounds and its beauty. As she says, it uses some of the more unusual sounds that string instruments can make  to produce a haunting landscape – the scraping sounds of a ship at sea, the cries of the seabirds, gulls, etc – quite an enthralling piece of ‘music’.  I was not so keen on another piece called ‘Windmill’ and composed by Stephen Whittingdon [Adelaide born composer and pianist, renowned for his performance of contemporary music  – very contemporary indeed was this piece]. In Australia, the windmill is a symbol of the human determination to survive in an inhospitable climate, of hope, courage and despair. The composition simply presents the continuous sounds of a windmill in operation – as it turns in the wind, pumping up life-giving water in the lonely and often desolate landscape.  The distinctive sounds of it creaking away, stopping occasionally, but always resuming as the breeze picks up again. I found it rather longer in duration than I would have preferred, with the ‘music’ almost becoming monotonous, and it was very difficult to know when the music had stopped, because of the natural stoppages of the windmill, as the wind dies down every now and then, the music hesitated also  – was that the end? Then the girls would start the cycle of creaking and revolving again. Gradually, the stoppages grew longer, and one realised, that eventually, the wind was going to stop altogether – at which point, the music stopped!  Contemporary, interesting, different.

 

The music of the Zephyr Quarter did interest me enough, to purchase a copy of their CD on the way out. Yes, I would play the occasional track on my Sunday show, but not the ‘Windmill’ – actually, it wasn’t on the CD, but ‘Nautilus’ was, the impetus to purchase!

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