Friday, March 02, 2012

CCC 020 - Carl Vine

Carl Vine is the latest composer in our series, the Consonant Classical Challenge. Vine comes from Australia. In addition to his classical compositions, he's also written extensively for dance and film. Vine's style has been described as "modernist," which works as well as any other label.

He seems to use the traditions of classical music much like Prokofiev did -- as a loose framework to create something completely original around. So while there are plenty of familiar things for the listener to hang on to, Vine's melodies, rhythms and tonal coloration provide fresh insights into the art of music.

Vine has an extensive orchestral catalog: he's composed seven symphonies so far, as well as a number of concertos, suites and shorter works for the orchestra. Vine's Symphony No. 5, the "Percussion Symphony" is a good illustration. Although clearly a contemporary work, it uses the Baroque era concerto grosso for its structure and ends in a tarantella. All in all, an exciting blend of old and new.

Vine's concertos follow the tradtion of romantic era works -- the solo instrument is the star, the orchestra the junior partner. It also walks that fine line of providing dautning technical challenges for the soloist while delivering well-crafted and engaging melodies to the listener.

Originally written for string quartet, Smith's Alchemy for string orchestra shows the inventiveness of Vine. Although limited to a single family of instruments, the work provides plenty of contrast and innovative musical thought.

Carl Vine is a major composer in Australia, and it's a shame he's not better known here in the states. His microsymphonies would be great works to introduce Vine to American audiences -- short, energetic, and accessible. We seem to have an endless appetite for dead European composers. How about a live Australian for a little a variety?

Recommended Recordings:

Vine: Complete Symphonies 1-6

Vine: The Tempest

Vine: Choral Symphony / Symphony 4.2 / Piano Concerto

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