Adrian Williams: Symphony No 1; Chamber Concerto: Portraits of Ned Kelly. © 2022 Wyastone Estate Limited

CD Spotlight

Criminal Exploits

GEOFF PEARCE listens to Adrian Williams' chamber concerto 'Portraits of Ned Kelly'

'The playing is very impressive and delivers a compelling performance.'

 

I am quite interested in the music of Adrian Willams, and had already reviewed the recording of his Symphony No 1 that is also included on this disc, earlier in the year, so this quick review will focus on the Chamber Concerto: Portraits of Ned Kelly. This work was composed in 1998 and, like the symphony, grew out of the composer's friendship with Sir Sidney Nolan. This famous Australian painter was living in Wales, a neighbour of Williams, and they enjoyed a strong friendship. Sidney Nolan's paintings are well known, especially the series containing Ned Kelly - a nineteenth century Australian bush ranger. Williams has used some of these in his chamber concerto as the basis of these portraits, in which Kelly's criminal exploits, final capture and ultimate execution are depicted.

Listen — Adrian Williams: Chamber Concerto: Portraits of Ned Kelly
(NI 6432 track 5, 2:10-2:50) ℗ 2022 Wyastone Estate Limited :

This work is described, for good reason, as a chamber concerto. It certainly makes concerto-like demands on the complete ensemble. The work, about twenty-two minutes in duration, contains many soloistic passages which feature a wide range of instrumental colours - very like the way an artist such as Nolan would use his paint colours.

Listen — Adrian Williams: Chamber Concerto: Portraits of Ned Kelly
(NI 6432 track 5, 6:52-7:36) ℗ 2022 Wyastone Estate Limited :

Texture and tempo also vary a great deal and there are snippets of dance music and Irish jigs. Kenneth Woods compares this work to Richard Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel, but states that it is darker and sometimes funnier than Strauss's work, and that the ending of both is deeply poignant.

Listen — Adrian Williams: Chamber Concerto: Portraits of Ned Kelly
(NI 6432 track 5, 8:00-8:49) ℗ 2022 Wyastone Estate Limited :

I find this a very colourful and interesting work with quickly shifting emotions. The playing is very impressive and delivers a compelling performance. It would be unfair to single out any of the instrumentalists for special mention as they are all just so good.

Listen — Adrian Williams: Chamber Concerto: Portraits of Ned Kelly
(NI 6432 track 5, 11:35-12:19) ℗ 2022 Wyastone Estate Limited :

This is not a work that everyone would enjoy, but if you give it a chance, you will hear, as I did, a fascinating and very proficient composer, and will find the music very rewarding.

Copyright © 4 September 2022 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia

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CD INFO: ADRIAN WILLIAMS: SYMPHONY NO 1; PORTRAITS OF NED KELLY

GEOFF PEARCE LISTENS TO ADRIAN WILLIAMS' SYMPHONY NO 1

ADRIAN WILLIAMS

KENNETH WOODS

NIMBUS RECORDS

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