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Earth Cry (1974)
Memento Mori (1993)
Piano Concerto (1983)
From Oceania (1970/2003)
Kakadu (1988)

William Barton (didjeridu)
Tamara Anna Cisłowska (piano)
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/James Judd

NAXOS 8.557382 [ Sept 2003, 71 mins]

Peter Sculthorpe is 75 and deserves to be celebrated in Europe as well as in his Pacific homeland.

An exhilarating CD, the music judiciously selected, played authoritatively by the NZSO and recorded to demonstration standard; do not assume that because they are so cheap, Naxos productions must be inferior.

The works representing three decades of a prolific output are all well crafted and there are exotic sounds of Sculthorpe's Tasmania and Australia, with didjeridu in Earthcry and birds in Kakadu. Memento Mori, which is built upon a semitonal oscillation and quotes the Dies Irae,reflects the tragedy of Easter Island, where great stone heads remain, but without any surviving history of their significance.

I liked the single movement piano concerto, with its working up of minimal materials (but not minimal in feeling) and ideas derived up from gamelan and Japanese court music; it could easily catch on here if there was not such over-preoccupation with promoting British music.

This music ought to get broadcast by the BBC at prime-time; it would have wide appeal and give plenty to think about.

© Peter Grahame Woolf