Some years ago, researching music to accompany my play, I Write What I See: Christina Stead Speaks, it occurred to me to select music only from mid-twentieth century Australian composers, people who had lived and worked in the same era and place as Stead. Among the pieces considered (though they didn’t make the final cut), were the Preludes of Raymond Hanson (1913 –1976), beautiful, atmospheric, evocative pieces.
On April 23rd, I therefore attended this concert of three works by Hanson, presented by the Melbourne Recital Centre and Australian National Academy of Music with much anticipation. I was not disappointed, it was a skilled display of interesting, intriguing music, played by excellent musicians.
The Piano Quintet, with Michael Kieran Harvey at the piano, and players from ANAM, Natalia Harvey and Beatrix Stewart (violins), Tom Higham (viola) and James Larsen (cello), presented a work which was at once unexpected, lyrical, dignified and stimulating. The care, precision and musical sympathy of the five players was remarkable.
The Piano Sonata, which followed, gave Harvey’s dashing and brilliant technique complete freedom; this virtuosic music needs a virtuoso, and this Harvey certainly is. It was exhilarating to see this agile musician attack this challenging work with such vigour and conviction.
The concert concluded with the short, tuneful Dedication, played by Anna Cooper and Kiran Phatak (flutes), and Nicholas Evans (clarinet).
The entire program, balanced, varied and engrossing, was a further discovery for me of Hanson’s range and ambitions, as well as a fine example of the presenters’ aim of affirming our country's significant musical lineage, and I would warmly encourage readers to attend more concerts in this series.
The Preludes, by the way, can be found on the excellent DVD Anthology of Australian Music, issued by ANU in Canberra. Enjoy!
Melbourne Recital Centre and Australian National Academy of Music present
Australian Voices: Raymond Hanson
Venue: The Salon | Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne
Date: Tuesday, 23 April 2013, 6pm
Tickets: $25 – $15
Bookings: (03) 9699 3333