According to interviews, the late Peter Sculthorpe stipulated that from the earliest he could remember, he wanted to not only be a composer but, more specifically, an Australian one. And it was during the late 50s and 60s that he came of age with innovative works like Irkanda and the seminal Sun Music I – IV – a time when Australian literature (Patrick White) and art (Drysdale, Boyd, et al) would present our land of ‘wide and open plains’, not to mention indigenous culture to an international audience.
In this generous boxed set containing several ARIA winners, we see his growth as a composer, often leading to to a later rewrite. For example, there are two performances of Sun Music (the old EMI recording led by John Hopkins and a later one featuring the Adelaide Symphony with David Porcelijn which replaces western style drones with didjeridu). Irklanda IV has three recordings, the bird-like glissandi and static approach reflecting the heat of the outback. The orchestral recordings culminate in his late masterpiece, his Requiem which brings together the Adelaide forces under Arvo Volmer with didjeridu virtuoso, William Barton.
An equally important bonus lies in a DVD devoted to the works that arguably show Sculthorpe’s true genius – his cycle of string quartets – played admirably here by the Goldner String Quartet led by Dene Olding. Here is a really indispensible set of recordings.