This is the third instalment in Stone Records’ fine series resurrecting Australian Art Songs that are “united in their unwarranted neglect,” as David Wickham puts it in his comprehensive liner notes.Soprano Lisa Harper-Brown and pianist Wickham both performed on the first two discs in the series; this third is a slight departure in its inclusion of works also scored for oboe and clarinet. It also features soprano Katja Webb, a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts based at Edith Cowan University, where this album was recorded.
Margaret Sutherland is heavily represented, with the two cycles Five Songs and Three Songs for Voice and Clarinet, as well as The Orange Tree and The Gentle Water Bird. Three of Geoffrey Allen’s cycles, Nursery Rhymes, Stile and Stump and Four Songs are included here, along with two by Melbourne composer Dorian Le Gallienne.
This collection of material is dominated by themes relating to children, from settings of nursery rhymes to more oblique references to the life cycle. Webb’s fruity soprano is lithe and adventurous, tackling this little-heard repertoire with thoughtful poise and relish; Wickham is precise and sympathetic. This is an important series noteworthy for its excavations of musical expressions of Modernism in mid-20th-century Australia.