Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lilburn and Whitehead

Heaven forbid! I may have to change my mind about Douglas Lilburn's music, which I've tended to dismiss for the most part for quite a long time.

He's the Concert Programme's Composer of the Week, and some of the music is actually....quite...listenable to. His Diversions for Strings has just been on, and has some real life about it, something I don't always associate with Lilburn. Even the Prelude & Fugue in G minor, Antipodes, which was on before that, wasn't dull. Have they suddenly discovered a pile of music by Lilburn which no one's ever heard before? Or is it just that I'm hearing a lot of this for the first time? Perhaps his 'other' music doesn't get played much - we tend to hear the same few things, particularly the Landfall in Unknown Seas, which always strikes me as a combination of poetry reading and string playing that just doesn't work. Maybe some of these other works will start to surface more regularly.

I might have to start liking the man's music after all...

On the other hand, I'm struggling a bit with the new biography of Gillian Whitehead at the moment. As far as I know her work is seldom played on the Concert programme - and if it is, it's passed me by. The book itself is fine, well-presented, thoroughly researched (though missing sources for many of its quotes) and includes a CD.

Well, I've listened to this CD several times, and it just isn't getting through to me. I thought maybe it was just this particular selection of music, and got a couple more CDs out of the library (the only two I could find in fact). They were even less listenable to. Spare and angular and full of sounds that don't sit well on my ear. There I go again: it's all about me.

Maybe now that I'm becoming more of an appreciator of Lilburn (though I've some ways to go yet) Ms Whitehead will have to suffer my cold shouldering as a substitute. I will keep on giving her house-room, as it were, but so far we don't appear to have got onto the same musical wavelength at all.

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