Friday, April 06, 2007

Lilburn exonerated

I've said in the past in this blog that I don't much care for Douglas Lilburn’s music. It sometimes seems as if the Concert Program is determined that I should like his music, because they keep on playing the bloomin’ stuff day after day, especially in their New Zealand Made section, which just happens to come on about the time I come home from work. I will now admit that his early symphonies are growing on me – I think it was the second that was on the other day, and I actually recognised it as being one of Lilburn’s symphonies. It still seems rather to me to be all hustle and bustle without much purpose but it’s creeping onto my list of listenable pieces. And, shock! horror!, I played the slow movement from his first piano sonatina in church this morning. What’s a sonatina? Who would really know? It’s something a composer calls a piece of music when he doesn’t quite think it’s up to sonata level. Maybe. Why did I play that movement in church? Or anywhere, if it comes to that. Firstly it’s got a pleasing dissonance about its main ‘theme’ (such as it is). And there’s some passion in it, something that seems to be mostly lacking in his music. And it suited the occasion. Our church generally has a Good Friday service in which, at some point, a young man brings in a heavy cross and carries it slowly down the steps to the front and up onto the stage, and then he proceeds to hammer three nails into it. It’s almost a tradition! And equally it’s almost a tradition for me to play something sombre to accompany the walk. I’ve used a Bach prelude a couple of times (the E minor, if I recall) and that’s been very effective. But I felt there was a need for a change, and the Lilburn sprung to mind. So there you are – he’s been somewhat exonerated.
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