Muse (CD)

Move Records
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Alicia Crossley, Acacia Quartet

Australian recorder virtuoso Alicia Crossley and the acclaimed Acacia Quartet present the premiere recording of Australian compositions for recorder and string quartet inspired by poetry, mythology, historic tunes and storybook characters.

Alicia Crossley is one of Australia’s leading recorder players. She performs a wide variety of repertoire from renaissance dance tunes to contemporary electro-acoustic works with a particular interest in bass recorder repertoire.

In eight years Acacia Quartet has won great respect for their versatile and inventive programs. “Acacia Quartet performed so well that at times they seem like only one instrument, such is their clarity and unison.”

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Review of Live Performance of This Repertoire:

"The many timbres and characters of the recorder relatives brought life to the detailed extramusical agendas of the concert’s short single or multiple-movement works. The combination of recorder and string quartet is a rare one at Australian chamber music festivals or concerts. At this event though we were quickly left craving more of this endearing ensemble’s joyous subtlety." - Sydney Arts Guide

"Muse was a beguiling concert full of whimsy and musical story-telling, neatly programmed to draw the audience through the disparate styles of the composers showcased. Fine performances by Crossley and the Acacia Quartet were a pleasure, but perhaps even more significant is the contribution to the recorder repertoire fostered here by Crossley." - Limelight Magazine (4 Stars)

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1-3. Lyle Chan: Three Bilitis Movements
I. The Dancers of Mytilene
II. The Rains of Spring and Morning
III. To invoke Pan, god of the summer wind

4. Anne Boyd: Yuya 

5. Chris Williams: Pass to us the cups with which sorrow is forgotten

6. Stephen Yates: Bat-Music

7-8. Jessica Wells: Copenhagen Christmas

9. Sally Whitwell: Three by Three

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A unique recital of Australian music for the recorder



This fascinating, attractive disc from Australian recorder player Alicia Crossley and the Acacia Quartet brings together works by Australian composers of different generations, from Anne Boyd (b. 1946) to Chris Williams (b. 1986). Crossley herself is one of our most hard-working and dedicated musicians: the Australian equivalent of Micaela Petri (the older Danish recorder player who has commissioned many Scandinavian works). Not all the pieces here were commissioned by Crossley, but the newer ones were. They make up a remarkably diverse and contrasting program.

The CD opens with Three Bilitis Moments by Lyle Chan. These refer to Les Chansons de Bilitis by Pierre Louÿs: exotic poems about Ancient Greece by the late 19th Century French poet who was a friend of Claude Debussy. (Debussy's best known vocal work is a setting of three of these poems.) Chan revisits Debussyan impressionism through a contemporary vantage point that recognises the musical patterns of minimalism. The lyrical second piece ("The Rains of Spring and Morning") is particularly beautiful. Anne Boyd's work Yuya takes its influence from Japanese Noh theatre, and has the tenor recorder imitate the shakuhachi (a Japanese bamboo flute) by playing around a Japanese scale, while the strings form a ritualistic chorus.

Rising star Chris Williams has Crossley switch to the bass recorder for his piece, "Pass to us the cups with which sorrow is forgotten", a meditation on a 12th Century Spanish song. Stephen Yates' Bat Music for alto recorder and quartet is, predictably, more up-tempo and dancelike, as is the first of the two movements of Copenhagen Christmas by Jessica Wells. The final work, Three by Three, is by Sally Whitwell who is also a talented pianist. Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, its sections are all in triple time. The piece is notable for a delightfully mordant waltz at its centre.

Each of these composers has a distinctive voice, and all the music is written with a sharp ear for texture. Crossley plays beautifully, but more as a first among equals than a virtuoso in the spotlight. The Acacia Quartet is terrific too, and sound is warm and well balanced.