Torrid nature scenes / Nicholas Vines.
Featured Australian works
||The Butcher of Brisbane (2006) Carnival for solo saxophone(s) and chamber ensemble
Recorded/performed at: Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, USA, on 5 Mar 08.
|Nicholas Vines||Callithumpian Consort, Eliot Gattegno, Stephen Drury||24 mins, 18 sec.|
||Economy of wax (2009) for soprano, flute/piccolo, viola and harp
Recorded/performed at: Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, USA, on 20 Jan 12.
|Nicholas Vines||Adrienne Pardee, Jessi Rosinski, Derek Mosloff, Franziska Huhn, Stephen Drury||9 mins, 27 sec.|
||Torrid nature scene (2008) a romp in seven parts
Recorded/performed at: Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, USA, on 20 Jun 10.
|Nicholas Vines||Callithumpian Consort, Paula Downes, Thea Lobo, Stephen Drury||27 mins, 18 sec.|
You should listen to every piece by Nicholas Vines as if it were a torrid nature scene. They are all torrid, heated from within by creative engines ever-spilling out anxious, ebullient fragments which, still warm with breath and friction, rub against each other in tight-packed arrays. Torrid - not sere like a scorched desert of modernist abstraction, but not humid in an unchecked profusion of tropical growth. Think of a landscape burning from within, like one of those gold-drenched Turner vistas of a mythical Albion, radiant with cross-currents of life and myth.
They are all about nature, all landscapes of sound painted in broad brushstrokes loaded with pattern and colour. But not just a play of surfaces, but of geological layers of tessiture and procedures that both ensconce and obscure each other. Some stretch out to the horizon, but others abut and erode each other in frozen tectonic violence. All are populated with abundant ecologies singing and scratching: like a dawn chorus, but not of birds, but of weight, of light; like Cézanne; like an ancient city, built and rebuilt from ostentation and allusion and the fervent industry of artisans.
But they are also all scenes, stage-managed fictions with a narrative arc and a moral intent. Don't wander off too far into the sonic undergrowth - the action is this way, there is an itinerary. There's plenty to enjoy either way, but obedient attention is rewarded with more complicated pleasures: confusion, frustration, pathos, horror. Not all the protagonists are immediately sympathetic, neither is every dénouement either catastrophe or catharsis, but surrender your attention and mortgage your judgment and you will be rewarded with entertainment and edification in equal measure.
To do all this at once is no mean feat - for the music, nor for the ear. Music made out of static panels doesn't often sound like this, not quite this teeming with exotic sounds and elaborate constructions. Music with such dramatic intensity is not usually made out of static panels - moulded, cut and stretched. And music this filled with exotic sounds and elaborate constructions often eschews the nostalgia of dramatic prescription. But here is music like history, alive with myriad details and actors at once coherent and contradictory, constrained by larger forces and trajectories they could never fully understand, and retold by an author who tells you just what he thinks you need to know. Yes, listen to it like that.
Duration: 62 min.
Liner notes include program notes and full text.
Enhanced CD (includes study scores, extended liner notes, videos).
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