Five Sundays in Fremantle
reviewed by Neville Cohn
pi and Dominic Perissinotto (organ)
St Patrick’s Basilica, Fremantle
Aficionados of new music were generously catered for at St Patrick’s Basilica in Fremantle where David Pye’s pi new music ensemble gave us a program of works of such recent vintage that some of it had been completed only days before.
Strictly speaking, Cathie Travers’ Mondrian’s Wood isn’t ensemble music at all. But anyone listening to a recording of it would be forgiven for assuming it was written for, and being performed by, a combo of musicians. In fact, it’s Travers alone and as a very busy one-person band, seated with her piano accordion at a bank of electronic gadgetry that might intimidate Dr Who.
It uses looping technology to create a near-mesmeric underlying percussive pattern with additional themes played on an electronic keyboard that are captured and pumped out again and again as required. Overarching this, is Travers’ haunting accordion music, slowly unfolding to the rhythm of a beguine. Perhaps oddly for music presented in a church, Mondrian’s Wood irresistibly evokes images of clinching couples moving slowly across a dance floor in a smoke-hazy tavern. This is a piece with a future.
Prior to this, Dominic Perissinotto at the organ literally pulled out the stops for a thunderous and very nimble account of Graham Koehne’s Toccata Aurora, music in the bustlingly noisy tradition of Widor’s famed Toccata from his Organ Symphony no 5. At its most formidable climaxes, tsunamis of formidable tone burst from the Basilica’s organ pipes.
Cellist Mel Robinson’s premiere account of her piece Surrender (also a one-person presentation that sounded as if more than a few musicians were simultaneously at work) produced slightly amplified, richly resonant sonorities (over a pre-recorded vocalise) that assumed the character of a minor-mode, eastern European song of mourning.
Gossamer-delicate murmurings on the marimba ushered in wood, wind, earth, water, a work jointly composed by David Pye and Lee Buddle. Sound, initially diffuse and quiet, grew very gradually in intensity to assume more definite, dance-like rhythmic patterns and melodic features before fading into silence.
Comments on concert catering rarely figure in music reviews but it would be ungracious to omit mention of Jonathan M Patisserie’s delicious biscuits and excellent, freshly brewed Essenza Coffee provided gratis at interval and perfect as an antidote against the chill of a mid-winter Fremantle afternoon. Certainly, it gave this writer a much appreciated caffeine jolt to sustain him as he hurried along Stirling Highway to arrive in time for A Winter Musical Feast at Perth Modern Auditorium.
Copyright Neville Cohn 2004