Lorelei Dowling is one of many Australian musicians who have created seriously impressive careers outside of her native land and one that proves that to have a major solo career, and one where you specialize in a branch of music that is not orchestral, you need to be in a densely populated environment and where the arts are seen as an integral way of life – where art of all kinds can flourish and nourish a community. Now residing in Vienna, Dowling is simply a superstar of the bassoon, an extraordinary musician, and one who champions the music of recent times.
Her solo CD on the Chromart Classics label shows a wide scope of musical interests from the titular I Was Like Wow for solo bassoon and pre-recorded CD by the Dutch composer Jacob Ter Velhuis to the masterful music of the Russian great Sofia Gubaidulina.
If you like the social message music of the USA from the 1960’s and 1970’s, think Steve Reich’s tape work from 1966 ‘Come Out’ and that legend of crossover music, Frank Zappa and his seminal masterpiece ‘Billy the Mountain’, then you will have an easy entrée into the Jacob TV work with its use of interviews with injured young USA servicemen on return from the war zones in Iraq in 2003. Dowling’s delightful and multi-coloured plaintive obbligato draws the listener into a surreal realm that surely makes the composer’s work even better than he could have imagined.
Any work by Sofia Gubaidulina is a treat and her Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings with its exploration of deep colours is a treasure. Dowling and Klangforum Wien, directed by conductor Johannes Kalitzke, create a mesmerising and deeply ancient experience with this music. Low pitched chords that defy simple explanations are contrasted with quirky snippets of a broken up G major triad that is possibly hinting at some Russian night bird. This is music where a great musical mind can take the compliant listener on a journey of aural and spiritual discovery. This stunning performance was from a concert in Vienna and I wish I had been there to experience it live. Lucky audience! I listened once, then again, and again and each time new layers of music and emotion were revealed. Rarely can 25 minutes of music pass in what seems merely a twinkling of the mind’s eye.
Also on the CD are solos by Pierluigi Billone, Blaues Fragment and Celluloid by Johannes Maria Staud. Both these composers have followed a path of European music of the last 70 or so years where the lyrical is seemingly less important than the show of technical prowess and still, both have created music that can appeal and entrance those who wish to give it time. Dowling is astonishing in her performance of these extremely difficult compositions.
The only Australian work is by the much performed Elena Kats-Chernin and she is represented by five simple movements, some of which are re-workings of previous commercial music. This work was recorded with the composer as pianist at the Sydney ABC Studios with Brooke Green as producer.
The CD is a most attractive product with delightful artworks throughout and informative liner notes.
I WAS LIKE WOW // Lorelei Dowling – bassoon // Elena Kats-Chernin – piano // Klangforum Wien Johannes Kalitzke (conductor) // Chromart Classics TXA16081 GTIN 4250702800811 // Buy on itunes