Australian composer Andrew Schultz (b. 1960) is from Adelaide, has lived in regional NSW and Victoria, studied in Brisbane, Philadelphia and London and is now based in Sydney where he is Professor of Music at UNSW. His large catalogue of compositions includes three operas in addition to large-scale orchestral, choral and chamber works.
Maali was commissioned by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) and its name is the Noongar word for the large black swans synonymous with the Swan River and Perth region. It is an orchestral work in the sinfonia concertantestyle, which in this case features a small group of woodwind soloists whose interplay with the orchestra is highlighted. There are three parts, each inspired by the maali and their behaviour, and without getting too literal, the woodwind soloists could certainly be aligned with them (timbres also not unlike the sound made by the maali) and the orchestra with their river home.
The darting, sinewy oboe and clarinet lines in “Lively, Fast and Playful” turn languid and rippling in the second “Slow, Dreamlike” movement, all the while interspersed with watery splashes of orchestral colour. In the final movement, the maali are “Fast, Joyous”, to which I would add regal and triumphant as the work builds to an intense, full-bodied climax. The magnificent acoustics of Perth’s modernist Concert Hall are on show in this live recording with internationally renowned Australian conductor Simone Young, whose precise, nuanced direction produces typically high calibre results, as the thunderous audience response to this performance testifies.
Composer: Andrew Schultz
Performers: Peter Facer o, Allan Meyer cl, Adam Mikulicz bn, David Evans h, West Australian Symphony Orchestra/Simone Young
Label: ABC Classic digital-only release