|Price:||CDN$ 14.85 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details|
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Known as 'the elder statesman of New Zealand classical music', Douglas Lilburn was instrumental in establishing a genuinely vernacular voice. All the works on this recording portray New Zealand's culture through an idiom instantly recognisable to listener
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Just as exciting, though, is the collection of otherwise relatively little-known works by Lilburn (little-known outside New Zealand at least). All but one are fairly early works; indeed two of them -- 'Drysdale Overture' (1937) and 'Forest' (1936) -- are student pieces, although you probably wouldn't recognize it on hearing them. 'Drysdale' is named for the farm in the central plateau of New Zealand's North Island on which Lilburn grew up. It has two main themes, one of them limning the landscape and the other a reminiscence of native lullabies that Lilburn's mother sang. 'Forest', a quarter-hour tone poem, describes an autumn landscape of a mountain in South Canterbury. There are typical Sibelian pizzicato basses that tread delicately through the first part of the work, but one can hear Lilburn's distinctive voice emerging. The piece won a competition for a work on New Zealand themes sponsored by Percy Grainger.
'Festival Overture' (1939), also a prize-winner, depicts the national spirit as the newly consolidated nation of New Zealand approached the War. It is both minatory and celebratory. 'A Song of the Islands' (1946), written after Lilburn had returned for good to New Zealand, is a quarter-hour tone poem in arch form that was inspired by a painting by New Zealand's Rita Angus depicting a church, cottage, barn and furrowed fields against a background of sea and snowy peaks. There is a haunting oboe melody that figures heavily in the work, along with a kind of breathless admiration for the scene depicted. The work has a sense of ultimately fulfilled anticipation, partly described through long-held harmonic suspensions, that is striking.
'A Birthday Offering' (1956) was written for the tenth anniversary of the founding of the National Orchestra (now the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) and sounds a little like Copland, with wide-open harmonies, along with what sounds like a tale-telling mood. The last-written work recorded here is the short 'Processional Fanfare' (1961, rev. 1985) composed by Lilburn while he was professor at Victoria University in Wellington. It is, as one might guess from its title, sometimes used as a processional at graduation ceremonies and it features three trumpets and strings calling out, among other things, variations on 'Gaudeamus igitur', the student song well-known from Brahms's Academic Festival Overture.
The performances by the very fine NZSO are all one could want. My copy of the CD had some sporadic problems with mistracking, a defect I assume was unique to my copy. Otherwise sound was lifelike. For those who are drawn to this music I would call attention to the fine recordings on Naxos of Lilburn's three symphonies performed by the same forces.
The "Aotearoa Overture" is eight minutes and 9 seconds of grace and energy. It is full of love for New Zealand's wondrous landscape. It is a truly inspirational piece of music. "A Birthday Offering" had this listener thinking of Bernstein, Stravinsky. Prokofiev and Copland. It is very enjoyable and perhap's the most 'different' sounding track on this CD. The "Drysdale Overture" is a homage to the place where Lilburn grew up. It sounds at first like Sibelius's 7th, with it's recurring horn theme. It then branches out into a Nielsen-like central section and closes winningly. "Forest" and "A Song of Islands" are the most deeply Sibelian pieces on the disc. They contain wonderful tonal painting filled with atmosphere. In these tone poem's, Lilburn navigates through the mountain's and valley's with a depth of feeling all his own. Wonderful stuff! The "Festival Overture" recall's parts of New Zealand's history and nationality. It is a spirited composition that sound's akin to the "Aotearoa Overture" and that's not a bad thing! "Processional Fanfare" contains a Purcell-like trumpet theme. It is joyous and celebratory.
James Judd and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra are superb throughout. The Naxos sonics have hardly ever sounded better. At a bargain price, this disc is a no-brainer for anyone interested. Highly recommended!