Fanfare

This relatively recent music from down under is as eclectic and free-spirited as the music of similar vintage from our own Anglo-Saxon outpost. Perhaps this can be attributed to the same fearlessness and independence that our nations share, but the fact is, only two of these men were born and raised in Australia. What all five share is another quality widely attributed to New World culture: unvarnished, direct expression. Felix Werder, who was born in Germany in 1922, offers the starkest and most harmonically advanced music on this disc. But even this brief Monograph, which was written for this CD, is vivid and easy to grasp, despite an often angular and chromatic language. British-born Michael Bertram also utilizes atonal gestures, but in a bright and energetic manner that produces the most imaginative material on this disc.

Geoffrey Allen is another Brit, providing music of a far more conventional nature. His Three Pieces are sweet and whimsical, with wry accents, while his Sonata, dedicated to pianist Trevor Barnard, is more neoclassical in its terse exposition. The music of the two native Aussies is even more concentrated and direct. Dorian le Gallienne’s Sonata for Piano is an almost simplistic conception, proceeding in Baroque lines that are disturbed by occasional angry blasts of notes. Tim Dargaville wrote his Night Song for a radio play about the last evening of Ned Kelly, a folk hero who was executed in the old Melbourne gaol. The music is quietly theatrical, dark, and dirgelike.

Trevor Barnard, another British-born and -trained musician, is an established figure in Australian musical life, as a performer, teacher and writer. He presents this music with power and conviction, and is nicely captured in a recital hall at the University of Melbourne.

—Peter Burwasser