- Outback Overture
- Corroboree, ballet
John Antill: Corroboree; An Outback Overtureby James Judd
John Antill was an Australian composer of the middle twentieth century. Largely unknown outside Australia, he was loosely connected with the Jindyworobak movement, which sought to promote a distinctively Australian art based on the use of Aboriginal materials and themes. It was thus a counterpart to the Indianist movement in the U.S., but came along 50 years later. "Corroboree," recorded here, was Antill's most famous work. The word denotes an Aboriginal ceremony that transmits tales of the Dreaming, the creation story common to many Aboriginal cultures. The precocious Antill witnessed such a ceremony at age nine and notated some of its music. Most of the links to Aboriginal music may be hard to detect for non-Australians, however, beyond the ostinatos and two-note motives that emerge over the course of the eight movements of this ballet. Antill's style is a mishmash of late Romantic nationalist devices, overlaid with touches of Percy Grainger and jazz, and finished off with Stravinskian motor rhythms that seem out of place in their lush orchestral surroundings. The music is undeniably colorful and kinetic, and interested buyers should note that earlier recordings of this work, which was championed by conductor Eugene Goossens, have tended to omit movements; it is presented complete here. The score's strongest point is the orchestration, which includes such innovations as a bull-roarer in the wild and a quite absorbing climactic dance of the "Procession of the Totems and Closing Ceremony," track 8. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra under James Judd responds well to this aspect of the music, with broad, transparent performances that don't falter in the smaller details. Recommended for those interested in the "primitivist" impulse as it manifested itself around the world, even if Antill did not have Bartók's ethnographic ear, nor even Stravinsky's.
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Performance CreditsJames Judd Primary Artist
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