A recent recording release devoted to music of young Sydney composer Cameron Lam (b.1989) shows that the art of vocal writing is safe in the hands of the younger generation of Australian composers.
At around 65 minutes The Art of Disappearing is a long composition and one where Cameron Lam shows great variety of emotional and musical attitudes whilst all the time staying within the boundaries of a music that has immediate appeal. His approach seems to me as if he wishes to create a dreamlike score and to take the listener on a journey that both thrills and lulls. There are eight songs and four instrumental movements. By reading the liner notes one can ascertain that there is an interspersing of movements from his String Quartet No. 2 throughout the song cycle.
I suppose it is possible Lam wished to reference concert-giving behaviour in the time of Haydn where, in particular concerts in London, symphonies frequently had operatic arias placed between the movements. Even though my personal preference would be for the compositions to be separated, the integration is most effective.
How fortunate for any composer, young or old, to have one of the doyen of Australian art song performers, Jenny Duck-Chong as your musical protagonist. Duck-Chong carefully enunciates the sometimes complex text – meaning that it doesn’t always have a lyrical/musical flow – of Sarah Holland-Batt and soars ecstatically most appropriately when given the perfect line from the composer.
The Geist String Quartet (Sonia Wilson and Mia Stanton – violins, Hayasa Tanaka – viola and James Larsen – cello) is new to me and they play beautifully with lovely intonation and a most musical approach to the works.
Excellent production values from the engineer Jayson McBride and the whole product is eminently attractive. A fine effort from all involved and one that deserves collecting as a document in the development of an Australian voice of the future.
Buy an online recording or CD here.
Composer: Cameron Lam | Recording: The Art of Disappearing | Musicians: Jenny Duck-Chong – mezzo-soprano and Geist String Quartet | Label: Kammerklang