Interesting piece that makes use of Chinese melodies and ornamental techniques.
1. Poppies and Spice
_Score 7 pp. Part 4 pp._
OMP085 Robert Allworth How many sunsets will I see? and A meditation of Saint Clare
OMP089 Winsome Evans A Rose in Phrygian Nines and Snave's Violetta Tango
YCS011 Nicholas Ng Poppies and Spice
Orpheus Music is a small company created to produce and distribute editions of Australian recorder music while allowing the composers to retain copyright. Though it has not been directly stated, the company seems to have a clear aesthetic direction that I would describe as multicultural eclecticism with a touch of New Age coolness. As diverse as they may be, each of the pieces in these three editions typifies that aesthetic ideal in its own way.
Least interesting are the two compositions by Robert Allworth. How many sunsets will I see? for alto recorder and mandolin strikes me as having a most ironic title for such a dry fusion of 12-tone language and low key New Age aesthetic. His brief solo alto piece, A meditation of Saint Clare is better - it has an attractively-haunting quality.
Far more engaging are the two solo soprano works by Winsome Evans. A Rose in Phrygian Nines is, as you might expect, a composition based on the Phrygian mode. That particular modality, as well as its fast, invigorating 7/8 meter, give it an Eastern European feel, although Evans uses ornamentation that seems to be a mixture of Baroque and Irish! The form of the piece might be described as variational, but it is closer to written-out improvisation. Snave's Violetta Tango is similar in design and style. Its tempo is slower and it's in 8/8 meter grouped 3+3+2. Somehow, a most unlikely and delightful tango feel projects through the music.
Nicholas Ng's Poppies and Spice for tenor and guitar is the most appealing of these works. It is inspired by the history of the Chinese community in Darwin (Northern Territory), which is described in the edition's preface. Ng's melodic idiom is European-rooted, but with many turns of both phrase and ornamentation that take their inspiration from Chinese and Japanese models. There are occasional references, as well, to the droning sound of the didgeridoo - sometimes described as the Australian aboriginal trumpet. Both parts are meticulously written. Visually they may appear to be simple, but when heard together they reveal an amazing sophistication. The end result is quite beautiful.
These editions are generally excellent though there are bad page turns in both the score and recorder part of Poppies and Spice. They are suited to advanced players.
Pete Rose, American Recorder, March 2003