Portrait of Bob Brown

Kieran Harvey • Sheppard
Portrait of Bob Brown
Michael Kieran Harvey p,
Emily Sheppard v, va
Move MD3415

Bob Brown is renowned for his single-minded dedication to environmental causes and this collaboration between Tasmanian-based pianist Michael Kieran Harvey and violinist Emily Sheppard is a very personal tribute to, as Harvey puts it, “a lifelong courageous warrior.” It comprises three new Australian works: two by Harvey for piano and violin, and one by Sheppard for viola and voice. 

Harvey’s Portrait of Bob Brown is restlessly percussive and typical of the thumping virtuosity that characterises Harvey’s pianism, interwoven here with sinewy violin. Harvey explains that it “reflects on the turbulent, courageous and serene complexities of Brown’s life through the resonances of a piano and violin narrative.” His Homage to Liszt is a similarly robust workout for piano and violin (reworked from the original arrangement for piano and percussion), with occasional splashes of Romantic lyricism breaking through the chordal walls. 

Sheppard is an occasional member of the ACO, and the respect and musical understanding between the two performers is palpable. Aftermath, inspired by a visit to a burned-out area of Tarkine in North-Western Tasmania, is characterised by spacious, open viola lines augmented by occasional wordless voice, further enhanced by a generous reverberant sonic. This dramatic but contemplative landscape is an appropriate tribute and all proceeds are to be donated to Brown’s wilderness protection foundation.