Online Journal

Lowri Blake - voice and cello
Lowri Records 2003

Vine: Inner World; Sculthorpe: Threnody; Keane: ConFusion; Sculthorpe: Requiem; Matthews: Palinode; Blake: Verklärter Bungalow. TPT: 60' 04

The variety of styles and techniques demanded of the performer in this diverse collection of works is admirably and virtuosically realised by Lowri Blake; however, whether some of the works should have been realised or not is a different matter. The concept of the CD is a musical discovery of English and Australian music for solo cello with some added extras.

Peter Sculthorpe's Threnody is a beautifully haunting melody based on an aboriginal lament. The clarity of emotion displayed in composition and performance makes this piece a delight to hear. You will also find this beauty in his Requiem, written thirteen years earlier. Neither piece has any need of the modem techniques to display its message, unlike Carl Vine's Inner World: this piece, for cello and pre-recorded CD is a hotchpotch of soundscapes that 'represent the symbiosis of string, hair and wood to reflect some of the internal processes involved in a truly musical performance (CV)'. This kind of compositional starting point allows composers to indulge wildly in their own fantasies, which may make perfect sense to them, but perhaps not to the rest of us. The use of' pre-recorded material is also unjustified, as all of the sounds have been generated from the mutation of original acoustic instruments that quite frankly would have sounded more effective if' they had been scored properly.

...Lowri displays a fantastic amount of cellistic talent that shouldn't be over-shadowed by some of the works she has chosen to record.

ConFusion, for multi-tracked cello and voice by John Keane, composed specially for this CD, could also fall into this category, but if you consider that he usually writes for TV or film then listening to this mix of rather dull cycles of basic rhythmic and melodic patterns, overlaid with a crooning female vocal line (lots of ooo-ing), then imagine something much more exciting happening on scene, then you won't be disappointed. Palinode, by Colin Matthews, is a good demonstration of double-stopping technique, and the work did originally start life as just that, a study, but developed into a set of variations. The overall mood does not seem to vary in any particular direction: it is perhaps more of a monologue by a depressed person with thoughts of suicide. Lowri's brother Ian Blake contributed the last discovery on this CD, Verklärter Bungalow. She comments on his droll sense of humour, which he must have been using when he composed this short piece for cello, voice and multi-track. He quotes 'an average Australian house is transfigured by its Christmas illuminations' – he may know a lot about fairy lights, but his command of compositional inspiration or technique should be kept firmly in the dark.

Overall, Lowri displays a fantastic amount of cellistic talent that shouldn't be over-shadowed by some of the works she has chosen to record.

Anwen Lewis  

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