Lachlan Skipworth – Chamber Works

Lachlan Skipworth – Chamber Works

Friday, 9 August 2019, 7.10am

A focus on fundamentals permeates this collection of chamber works composed by Skipworth, a rising star in Australian contemporary music. In the first moments of the Clarinet Quintet, listeners are drawn into his unique sound world with its cascade of angular string entries. Against this, the round cool tone of the main clarinet line articulates, expanding slowly from a single note into the beautiful and at times dramatic melodic line. It sets the scene for the rest of the album, which includes works that reflect traits of the shakuhachi’s honkyoku repertoire; a palindromic reverse-canon evoking Reichian phasing; propulsive, Shostakovich-esque melodies; and meditative explorations in using silence as texture that is indebted to the principles of classical Japanese aesthetics.

Akiko Miyazawa – violin
Aleksandar Madžar – piano
Ashley William Smith – clarinet, bass clarinet
Anna Pokorny – cello
Bella Hristova – clarinet
Ben Caddy – viola
Emily Green-Armytage – piano
James Guan – piano
Jon Tooby – cello
Kate Sullivan – violin
Louise Devenish – marimba, psalterphone
Umberto Clerici – cello




Why I gave the above rating: 

The cover of Australian composer and clarinettist Lachlan Skipworth’s debut album of chamber works is immediately arresting: a white background, a few bare ink-like scratches of flowers, their blurred reflections.We immediately think of gesture and balance, of sparsity and calm. What follows in the album then is something of a surprise, even for someone who has heard a number of Skipworth’s works live previously.

The sonic impression of the visual introduction is maintained in the opening Clarinet Quintet, and the closing work (also the oldest piece on the album), The Night Sky Fall, on which his many years’ experience studying shakuhachi in Japan is most evident. But between these two is a world of dynamism, of changing colours, of melodic gestures spun outwards into great textural masses. The Piano Trio, based on a piece called Daha (“pounding wave”) exists in a hypnotic harmonic world, a state of almost unbearable suspension; the Piano Quartet creates an expansive timbral space with grand gestures at its heart; Intercurrent, stepping away somewhat from the rest of the album, is an attractively light piece of rhythmic interplay. The Night Sky Fall remains the highlight of the album for me though, a background of sheer white light dappled with pointilist gestures.

Feb 10, 2020

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