Close Ups


Trackdown, Scoring Stage, Fox Studios

Sydney Morning Herald, June 2004
Reviewed by Peter McCallum

Halcyon days and a vintage performance

New music in a new hall. The sound in the Trackdown Scoring Stage is clear, close and revealing, leaving nothing much to hide behind, although in the case of vocal duo Halcyon (soprano, Alison Morgan, mezzo, Jenny Duck-Chong) nothing much needed hiding.

The program was built of nicely thought-out brackets. In the first you might call it the flying insect bracket the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's Du gick, flog (Morgan with pianist Sally Whitwell) was all sensuous slides and bips. New Zealander Rachel Clement's Fracture started like a mosquito you suddenly become aware of in the night, mutating and flicking in response to the text, while Sally Beamish's Buzz sidled and slipped like a bee on heat.

In the next bracket let's call it the surreal love bracket Edison Denisov's Archipelago of Dreams was eerily chromatic. More appealing to me in their simplicity were two songs by Libby Larsen, motivically tight, with apt match of music and text.

A fragmented-phonemes bracket after interval was led off by David Bedford's Come in here child, where a first-degree modernist treatment worked in tension with Kenneth Patchen's text.

Fung Lam's Amitabha was a still pentatonic meditation, like a morning breeze over quiet water. Ross Harris's Inside the Rainbow Air was solitary and ruminative, while John Peterson's The Return was soaring, rhapsodic and flowing, surging to points of arrival to an expansive narrative text by Michele Morgan. More vintage Halcyon.