A baroque fantasy on various aspects of life with the Flying Doctor
Diana Weston wrote a poem ‘Flying Doctor’ and the work composed in 2014 for Thoroughbass by Ann used these images for the work, which is based on a day in the life of a Flying Doctor working for the RFDS; and the concert takes its name from the piece.
The piece is quite baroque in style, not surprisingly given the scoring for recorder, harpsichord and cello. The latter function very much as a continuo in the piece with frequent contrapuntal work between the recorder and the right hand of the harpsichord, while the cello provides the harmonic momentum with a walking bass. There were a few modern harmonic twists as one would expect, but on the whole it was a baroque fantasy on various aspects of life with the Flying Doctor.
Humour never far from the surface
Ann was there and spoke for a while, as did her publisher and also Robert Goode, the former city of Sydney organist who had a lot to do with bringing this music to fruition. It is rather nice to put a human face to it all. It was clear from the speakers, as indeed it was from the music, that humour is never far from the surface. One of the pieces “ITT” (1974) was for solo harpsichord and, yes you guessed it, it was a set of variations on the theme of the Adams Family. It was asking for it.
A retrospective of Ann Carr-Boyd’s work
Most of the rest of the music dated back to the 1970s too, and has not seen the light of day for 30 years or more. Quite a retrospective. A series of folksong arrangements bookended the concert. Very varied styles here despite the tone set by the constraints of an early music ensemble. Much of the music was originally written for a group called “Catch 75” who were later to become “The Consort of Sydney”.
Musical feast of varied flavours
The concert was a musical feast of varied flavours. In the folk songs we had French, Greek, Mongolian, German and American bluegrass (almost). The musical styles ranged from Mediaeval to German romantic to modern, with hands in the harpsichord. From traditionally tonal to atonal and modal. Aboriginal music got a trot too with cello doing the didgeridoo thing, clap-sticks and various vocal noises, including voiced flutter-tonguing on the tenor recorder; avery interesting effect.
There was also an interesting astrological piece “Nadir” for violin and harpsichord with lots of open intervals and a sense of planets on their axes; music of the spheres.
Two years in the making
The ensemble had clearly done a lot of preparatory work and there was a double CD album mirroring the concert on sale at the door. Apparently it has been a two year project bringing all this together.
On the whole it was a charming and very personal concert in this intimate setting.
Further performances are scheduled for 9 May in Canberra and 10 May in Burradoo.
ThoroughBass | Flying West: The music of Ann Carr-Boyd | April 19 2015 | Mosman Art Gallery