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Twilight on Tuesday brought us back to Civic Theatre for The Sunken Cathedral. Ian Munro played four of the best-known impressionist piano pieces while new documentary footage of the Reef was screened above and behind him -- aerial shots of the reef with Jeux d'eau, then moving underwater for corals with The Girl with the Flaxen Hair, fish and other small creatures with Ondine, and sharks with The Sunken Cathedral.

Munro was followed by a group led by Chris Latham with the latest version, for string sextet and didjeridu, of Sculthorpe's lovely Songs of Sea and Sky, and another similar documentary. The feeling afterwards was that it was all fascinating but that the piano accompanied the first video and the second video accompanied the ensemble, the extra visual interest of the group working together and the novelty of the music balancing the universal human tendency to favour visual stimuli over aural.

William Barton playing the didjeridu
William Barton playing the didjeridu

There was more Sculthorpe straight after dinner, his String Sonata No 3, Jabiru Dreaming. Once again, he has added a didjeridu to a work that he composed for strings; this was the première of the new version. That led us to Shostakovich and another adapted work, the Chamber Symphony Op 110a which began as String Quartet No 8; the programme didn't say, but the orchestration was presumably Barshai's.

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Copyright © 9 July 2005 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


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