Not many composers would be reasonably justified in releasing a retrospective collection of their works at the meager age of 33, let alone have the arsenal in their creative inventory to present it in five meaty volumes. But then, having already collaborated with the likes of Richard Tognetti, Jon Rose and Brett Dean, Melbourne-raised Anthony Pateras isn’t like many other young composers.

Pateras’ Collected Works 2002–2012 affirms his position as one of the most respected and sought-after Australian composers of his generation. The 5-CD limited edition box set spans a decade of creative output across various instrumental media, from chamber, orchestral to solo piano. Reproduced in the notes are excerpts from a handful of Pateras’ highly personal and oftentimes clinically schematic scores, offering a fascinating insight into the composer’s unique way of assembling sounds.

The list of Pateras’ recruited performing artists reads as an all-star line of Australian talent, comprising Dean conducting the ANAM Orchestra in the fragmented, free-wheeling Immediata electric violin concerto with Tognetti as soloist, Melbourne-based experimental outfit Golden Fur in chamber piece Broken then fixed then Broken, and Timothy Munro as bass flautist in the ethereal and monolithic Lost Compass. Pateras himself executes a mix of prepared and non-prepared piano pieces.

Pateras’ collection is a varied display of technical sure-footedness and keen compositional invention. Yet what is perhaps most impressive is the composer’s unique intellectual restlessness. As
is often the case with truly original artists, Pateras never ceases to question and reinvent himself, and his opuses can be understood as a series of cycles, where an idea gains momentum and reaches the peak of its expressive capabilities, but then, upon exhausting itself, naturally diminishes and ushers in a new set of governing principles.