Composers: Lachlan Skipworth
Compositions: Chamber works
Performers: Smith cl, bcl Mayazawa vn, Caddy va, Tooby vc, Devenish perc, Green-Armytage pf et al
Catalogue Number: NAVONA NV6241

Lachlan Skipworth (b. 1982) trained as a clarinettist before turning to composition and completing postgraduate studies with Australian luminaries Roger Smalley and Anne Boyd. In recent years he has been the recipient of several major awards including the 2016 Paul Lowin Prize for his clarinet concerto, cementing recognition for his work and generating international interest and engagements. However, it was intense study of another wind instrument, the Japanese shakuhachi bamboo flute, which had an irrevocable effect on Skipworth’s compositional practice and paved the way (as Boyd put it in reference to her own work) for the use of “simpler scale forms [that] enabled a greater focus on timbre.”

This is the first full-length recording devoted entirely to Skipworth’s compositions, five of which are presented here: two traditionally-structured chamber works and three that head in more experimental directions. A Piano Trio in three movements recorded at its Musica Viva premiere by the ABC in 2015 ignites with a slow-burning intensity, especially in the second movement which ends with an extraordinary bird-like repeated note. More marvellous writing for strings is evident in the Piano Quartet as tonalities glide in space while phrases unfold like breaths.

These works are bookended by two smaller pieces that share an unhurried spatial sensibility in which long sustained tones alternate with silence: a single movement clarinet quintet and The Night Sky Fall. This stunning work features clarinet, piano and ‘psalterphone’ – a series of metal tubes played with a bow across the openings that creates rich overtones and an effect not unlike feedback, mesmerising and hypnotic. The close, warm recording ensures that these nuanced performances, largely by young Australian colleagues, are captured with the richness and clarity they deserve. A most impressive and very accessible recording, brimming with ideas executed with sophisticated precision.