Australian born composer Jonathan Little was born in 1965 and gained early experience as a chorister with the National Boys Choir of Australia before becoming a student at the University of Melbourne.
The highlight of this CD featuring a very varied array of his work is undoubtedly the Kyrie from his Missa Temporis Perditi, a work begun in 1985 but only completed twenty years later. Here, in this beautifully expansive work which explores the large choral sound to great effect and with secure technical skill, is an inspired creation that makes both harmonic and contrapuntal sense and moves with voluptuous sonorities through the full range of the choral spectrum. The performance by sixty voices of the Thomas Tallis Chamber Choir is superb.
Listen -- Kyrie (Missa Temporis Perditi)
(track 1, 0:00-1:13) © 2007 Dilute Ltd
The other vocal work on the CD does not however achieve quite the same heights. It is a setting of Shakespeare's sonnet 'That time of year ...' and is not only less comfortably performed by soloists from the Sofia National Opera, but seems less securely composed with a harmonic instability and limited expressive breadth.
The CD title is taken from a symphonic portrait Terpsichore: 'The Whirler' or Muse of the Dance, one of a series of works depicting the Muses that explore the orchestra vividly with particular focus on the percussion. This colourful and brightly orchestrated piece is in nine short scenes, each a picture of the dancer, wild, majestic, provocative and contemplative.
Listen -- Terpsichore
(track 4, 4:38-6:00) © 2007 Dilute Ltd
There is a darker and meditative piece for string quintet -- darker too because a single violin is set against pairs of violas and cellos -- and a brief stirring Fanfare for brass and percussion, written for the opening of a refurbished hall in Melbourne University. A Duo Sonata for two percussion players is excellently played, though perhaps does not maintain interest throughout its four movements -- a total of 22 minutes. It is based on a group of Elizabethan songs (Dowland, Campion and others) and involves some fascinating rhythmic patterns and imaginative combinations of the wide range of instruments.
Listen -- Fantasia (Duo Sonata)
(track 8, 2:20-3:35) © 2007 Dilute Ltd
Little is currently a senior lecturer at the University of Chichester where he is director of 'Commercial Music' studies.
Copyright © 16 May 2009
CD INFORMATION: JONATHAN LITTLE - TERPISCHORE AND OTHER WORKS
Record Box is Music & Vision's
regular series of shorter CD reviews