O’Boyle’s Concerto for Didgeridoo is
a joint composition with soloist William Barton. It's in four movements
each named after the traditional elements. Earth is tense with
pent-up energy. The primeval ululating growl of the solo instrument
is relieved by gleaming Hovhaness figuration from the violins. extract
Wind seems to speak in mystical and fearsome numbers through
the didgeridoo. It articulates a voice from the stone and from the sand.
This time there is a slamming and hunting scherzo character to the music.
extract Barton also speaks
through the Didgeridoo – there are words in the sound of the instrument
and this gives a supernatural and hair-raising effect. Water is
a more contented essay with strings imparting gentle breath. There are
light-imbued contributions from harp and woodwind. This is a necessary
release after the grim intimations of the first two movements. extract
Even so the didgeridoo adds its overlay of threat later in the movement.
Fire, the finale, rushes, howls and roars, in a blasting bloodlust.
Fast stabbing strings are there in ostinato and the didgeridoo croaks
a savage and sometimes jazzy exultation. extract
Riversymphony is a work for massive forces: soloists,
choir, thirty-strong brass band and orchestra. It is designed for outdoor
performance - in this case along the banks of the Brisbane River. The
Symphony symbolises the rivers of the world. It is in eight short movements
across 24 minutes. The effect is lavishly romantic-heroic and broad,
moving amid styles we recognise: Walton, Vaughan Williams, Rutter, George
Lloyd, Mussorgsky, Debussy and Smetana. The film music of John Williams,
Howard Shore and John Barry is also referenced. Jane Sheldon who made
such a hit with the Wild Swans music of Kats-Chernin here sings
the honeyed role of Child of the River. The music has an inspired
marine quality though the manner is often related to the better known
composers mentioned above. The work ends is a heaving blaze of unashamed
exultation with great surging waves of brass and rolling choral weight.
Storm clouds gather
Dolphin, Platypus and Fish Dart in the Shallows
Lament for the River and Triumphant Return to the Sea
This is music that is pleasingly wild and candidly indebted when it
comes to the style palette. It was after all meant for major public
celebration outdoors. The Concerto is a different and more substantial
matter, speaking as if from Australia's far distant past. Pity about
the very short playing time.