With his second release, West Australian composer Lachlan Skipworth has moved from chamber music to larger orchestral and choral music in three pieces in a varied array of forms that allow him to display his melodic mastery as a composer and, in two of them, a synthesis of Japanese wind instruments within Western musical structures.
Breath of Thunder is performed by the Sydney Symphony with the addition of Taiko drums and Japanese flutes. The orchestral accompaniment also features both tuned percussion and harp. Skipworth is one of those rare individuals who recognise that space is as important as the musical notes of the score. The work has an attractive elegiac quality which is punctuated by the composer’s ingenious use of percussion. The work is a seemingly timeless reverie featuring Riley Lee’s masterly shakuhachi over drone strings and piano before giving way to brass, which is perhaps reminiscent of American composers like Bernstein and Schuman. It is a fine work of individuality presenting the unique, highly approachable and meditative voice of this gifted composer concisely.
The other two works are equally impressive, though they explore different vistas and varied instrumentation. Avem Asperitas is highly atmospheric, hypnotic and uplifting in effect with imaginative tone colour offering endless variety while bringing his own instrument, the clarinet, together with rhythmic strings, Japanese flutes and a melange of tuned percussion. This is music which is by turns driven and inwardly reflective.
Hymns in Reverie is a fine choral work presented by a team of three Japanese choirs, which commences with gentle percussion and a wordless chorus bordering on the primordial before breaking into the “dream inspired” texts of the 18th-century German poet, Novalis. It is a work of both delicacy and power.
These three differing works provide an ideal introduction to this gifted composer. Here is someone who is uniquely tuned into the psyche of the contemporary listener. A highly attractive disc.
Composer: Lachlan Skipworth
Works: Breath of Thunder, Avem Asperitas, Hymns in Reverie
Performers: Cygnus Arioso