Dean, B Water Music
Whether in performance or on disc, Brett Dean’s stock has risen considerably this last decade, and this follow-up to an earlier BIS disc confirms his success as not merely fortuitous. The four works here span the decade of his transition from viola-player to composer, underlining both his technical resourcefulness and his environmental concerns. Water Music elides the timbral disparity of saxophone quartet and chamber orchestra with evident finesse – outlining a course in which water as “sound” and “image” is ultimately defined by its “absence”. This passing from idealised present to starkly imagined future is realised even more directly in Pastoral Symphony, in which a pervasive use of samples is the active context for a tightly argued discourse on pollution and deforestation – one that is no less musical for its being so graphically represented.
Siduri Dances is the expansion of an earlier work for solo flute, with Sharon Bezaly encompassing its pivoting between restraint and abandon with her customary poise. Musically, though, Carlo is a more engrossing listen: a portrait in sound of the late-Renaissance aristocrat-composer Carlo Gesualdo, whose life and music Dean rightly considers inseparable. Concrete allusions to Gesualdo’s music (via tape) and direct vocal interjections (via sampler) are presented in a continuous process that reveals more through closing in on itself – hence the suffocating climactic chord. This is rendered with powerful immediacy, as is everything else on a disc that, alongside informative booklet-notes, can be well recommended to Dean admirers and newcomers alike.