Friday, May 23, 2014

CCC 103 - Stephen Whittington

Australian composer Stephen Whittington is this week's Consonant Classical Challenge entry. Whittington weaves together musical influences from many different cultures (which seem to be tonally based in one way or another). Whittington doesn't write pretty music, nor does he write pop or world-beat music. Rather, his compositions have significant depth to them, and the incorporated elements from other musics simply give him a wider tonal palette to create from.

"Fallacies of Hope," for piano quintet, was inspired by the paintings of J. W. Turner, and share the same impressionistic qualities. The rising and falling of the accompaniment give the work a natural rhythmic pulse, like the ocean.

"Acid Test" for bassoon and piano stretches its tonal center not quite to the breaking point, but enough to give the melody a little dissonance. One might even say an acidic tang.

"...from a thatched hut." for string quartet shows Whittington's fascination with Chinese music. The glissandi of the strings closely resemble the bending of notes common on Chinese instruments, and the movement featured remains mostly pentatonic. While sounding Oriental, the continual circling back of the motifs give the work a minimalist feel as well -- making the quartet sound both ancient and modern.

I found Stephen Whittington's music fascinating, and not sounding quite like anyone else's. That alone should make it attractive to programmers interested in attracting new audiences -- especially when you can assure them that the works can be enjoyed at the first hearing. Although I recommend several to fully understand exactly what Whittington's about.

Recommended Recordings

Music for Airport Furniture

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