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Symphonies from New Zealand,
considered by BASIL RAMSEY

Naxos    8.555862

Douglas Lilburn - The Three Symphonies. New Zealand Symphony Orchestra / James Judd. © 2002 HNH International Ltd

Douglas Lilburn, New Zealand's best known composer of the 20th century, died last year leaving three symphonies and a reputation which falls well short of global. Such a fact is sad but has to be seen in the usual context of artistic gambling, where some are lucky and others are not. Fortunately, recording to compact disc is almost commonplace today. It has such a hold on the musically inclined that the world is awash in countless thousands of small shiny discs endlessly emerging from the presses stamped with music divine to utter rubbish. Such is our thirst for music in all its diversity.

Lilburn's three symphonies show a facility in 20th century mannerisms, although it takes until the third to rise above normal accessibilities of language and strike for subtleties that lie hidden to all but treasure seekers. Lilburn is no feverish scrambler for novelty: his scoring uses the orchestra as a colour and textural motivator controlled to project his thoughts and their development in a symphonic mould.

The style has no rough abrasions, perceiving itself as a dutiful conveyor of the music's journey, which as material for development takes us through sometimes dark yet familiar territory [listen -- track 5, 0:00-1:05].

Copyright © 20 July 2002 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK


Douglas Lilburn - The Three Symphonies

8.555862 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 77'16" 2002 HNH International Ltd

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra / James Judd

Symphony No 1 (1949 - Allegro non troppo; Andante con moto; Allegro); Symphony No 2 (1951 - Prelude: Moderato; Scherzo: Allegro vivace; Introduction: Poco lento; Finale: Allegro); Symphony No 3 (1961 - Moderato - Vivace - Allegro - Andante - Allegro)



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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Saturday series of shorter CD reviews