Christopher Latham

Christopher Latham

Christopher Latham has been an ACO violinist and festival director. He was Canberra’s 2013 Artist of the Year, created the Gallipoli Symphony, and directs the Flowers of War. Awarded the French Government’s Order of Arts and Letters, he is artist-in-residence at the Australian War Memorial.


Articles by Christopher Latham

20 January, 2011
CD and Other Review

Review: Australian Composer Series, Volume 3: Works by Williamson, Meale, Brophy, Glanville-Hicks, Dean (Tasmanian SO)

The 15 CDs have been sold individually, in two five-CD box sets, and the highlights on two samplers. In this, the third five-CD box set, we see forgotten masters Malcolm Williamson and Peggy Glanville-Hicks brought together with Richard Meale, Gerard Brophy and Brett Dean. In all cases these recordings are overdue, bursting with works that have long been out of circulation. Their value to libraries, composers and musicians cannot be overestimated.  My personal favourite is the Peggy Glanville-Hicks record. Opening with the ebullient Etruscan Concerto, played with humour and fine feeling by Caroline Almonte, although the orchestral tuttis could be faster and lighter. The late Deborah Riedel appears in the ‘Final Scene’ from Sappho. This exquisite excerpt is even more poignant with Riedel’s voluptuous, creamy voice in fine form in this, one of her last recordings. Tragic Celebration, Glanville-Hicks’s second last major work becomes more elegaic seemingly previewing the end of her creative career. Letters from Morocco, here in a live recording by Gerald English, is also a welcome inclusion. Glanville-Hicks is overdue for a major revival and hopefully this CD will help to build some momentum for her music.  Malcolm Williamson likewise is appallingly underrepresented on CD, and like Glanville-Hicks…

20 January, 2011
CD and Other Review

Review: DVORAK Violin Concerto (violin: Jack Liebeck; Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Walker)

The Dvorak Violin Concerto has never enjoyed first rank status amongst the Romantic violin concertos, although it is blessed with an abundance of soaring melodies and a truly catchy last movement. The problem stems from the dedicatee, the violinist Joseph Joachim who was uncomfortable with the work’s atypical form. He insisted on a number of changes, yet even after four years of painstaking revisions, he declined to perform it, leaving the premiere to the Czech violinist Frantisek Ondricek. Even more neglected is the Violin Sonata in F major Op. 57, a work I have wondered about but have never heard and which I found tuneful and attractive. Fortunately the final work, the Sonatina in G, is better known, largely due to Fritz Kreisler’s arrangement of the slow movement, which was hurriedly sketched on a shirt sleeve during Dvorak’s visit to Minnehaha Falls in Minnesota. Written alongside the New World Symphony and the American String Quartet, it is a modest work intended by Dvorak “for young people and grown-ups too”. The violinist, Jack Liebeck, is a polished fiddler with a real gift for lyrical playing. He has a deep “in the string” sound which is intensely sweet even when he plays…

20 January, 2011
CD and Other Review

Review: BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas Vol. 8 (piano: Andras Schiff)

There are even fewer things whose meaning continues to grow deeper with examination. T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, Mark Rothko’s mature paintings and late Beethoven generally come to mind. Here is a recording of the last three sonatas, Opp. 109, 110 and 111, that is the most serious attempt to reveal the secrets of these sublime works since Richard Goode’s 1987 versions for Nonesuch 30 years ago. Curiously, the other classic recording it brings to mind is Glenn Gould’s made another 30 years before that in 1956. And of course everyone still measures every subsequent Beethoven cycle against the original Artur Schnabel 1930s recordings made 30 years before that. Perhaps it can only happen once a generation that someone takes us to new heights with their insights into this material. To paraphrase August Kleinzahler, this music is like “light passing through muslin… if it were fabric, it would come apart in your hands”. These late sonatas remain a mountain top whose crest keeps giving way to a further summit, hovering perpetually on the horizon, to which we head towards without ever arriving. Only after 20 years of playing the late Beethoven Quartets did Rostislav Dubinsky of the Borodin Quartet finally feel…

20 January, 2011
CD and Other Review

Review: BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas Vol. 8 (piano: Andras Schiff)

There are even fewer things whose meaning continues to grow deeper with examination. T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, Mark Rothko’s mature paintings and late Beethoven generally come to mind. Here is a recording of the last three sonatas, Opp. 109, 110 and 111, that is the most serious attempt to reveal the secrets of these sublime works since Richard Goode’s 1987 versions for Nonesuch 30 years ago. Curiously, the other classic recording it brings to mind is Glenn Gould’s made another 30 years before that in 1956. And of course everyone still measures every subsequent Beethoven cycle against the original Artur Schnabel 1930s recordings made 30 years before that. Perhaps it can only happen once a generation that someone takes us to new heights with their insights into this material. To paraphrase August Kleinzahler, this music is like “light passing through muslin… if it were fabric, it would come apart in your hands”. These late sonatas remain a mountain top whose crest keeps giving way to a further summit, hovering perpetually on the horizon, to which we head towards without ever arriving. Only after 20 years of playing the late Beethoven Quartets did Rostislav Dubinsky of the Borodin Quartet finally feel…