Sculthorpe: Island Songs; Dean: The Siduri Dances; Edwards: Full Moon Dances – Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra

Reviewed on Mon 07 Mar, 2016

Peter Sculthorpe’s two-part Island Songs – one of his last compositions before his death in 2014 – catches the ear with its evocatively sultry sinuousness, Dickson’s soprano saxophone held aloft on soft, cosseting thermals of melody.

Here’s an intriguing – and entertaining – glimpse into largely overlooked developments in contemporary Australian music with three first appearances on disc of saxophone concertos written for the soloist here, Amy Dickson. Peter Sculthorpe’s two-part Island Songs – one of his last compositions before his death in 2014 – catches the ear with its evocatively sultry sinuousness, Dickson’s soprano saxophone held aloft on soft, cosseting thermals of melody. Brett Dean’s The Siduri Dances (originally composed as ‘Demons’ for flautist Sharon Bezaly in 2004 and re-arranged by the composer for Amy Dickson in 2013) is an exotic, helter-skelter experience of dazzling and occasionally disconcerting effects, all perfectly conjured by soloist and orchestra. A five-movement concerto for alto saxophone, Full Moon Dances by Ross Edwards benefits from the managed adrenalin of its live concert recording, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Miguel Harth-Bedoya providing kaleidoscopic support for Dickson’s darting, dancing, often delirious saxophone.
–Michael Quinn