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An impressive achievement

Mirrors of Fire
by Tim Kain -
reviewed by

'Kain's playing is marvellous.'

Tim Kain: Mirrors of Fire. Australian Guitar Originals. © 2004 Tall Poppies Records

The major piece on this disc is not the title track but Nigel Westlake's Antarctica. It is a substantial re-working of music originally composed for an Imax film about the frozen continent and the movement titles still reflect its origins. Westlake calls it a 'suite for guitar and orchestra' -- that is, not quite a concerto -- but the distinction does not seem terribly important. The soloist's role might perhaps be interpreted for programmatic reasons as the voice of mankind in a spectacular but indifferent environment, but that is at least analogous to the solo-orchestra opposition of a concerto [listen -- track 9, 1:13-2:08].

The Tasmanian Symphony is one of the smallest of Australia's State orchestras but has a well-earned national reputation for excellence. It is hard to imagine a better realisation of the score than they give us here under David Porcelijn. Colours are vivid, rhythms are precise, and the orchestra changes direction on the point of an icicle [listen -- track 11, 1:22-2:33].

Antarctica is a very attractive work in its final form but betrays its origins as programme music in that some transitions lack apparent musical logic. It is not a major fault, but if it troubles the listener there are always the alternatives of listening to the film version (a previous Tall Poppies release) or perhaps even seeing the film.

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Copyright © 19 June 2005 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


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