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Benjamin Northey

Frederick Septimus Kelly – Orchestral Works

Frederick Septimus Kelly was one of Australia's great cultural losses of World War One: a composer the equal of Vaughan Williams, who survived Gallipoli but was cut down in the final days of the Battle of the Somme. His music – crafted entirely in his head, and only committed to paper once perfected – displays touching lyricism and profound invention. Even during the war, he never stopped writing music: on troop ships during long ocean crossings, in training camps, in the trenches of Gallipoli, in a military hospital recovering from war wounds, in a bombed-out cellar barely 300 metres from enemy lines in France. This album presents his complete catalogue of orchestral works, many recorded here for the first time.

Born in Sydney, ‘Sep’ Kelly’s precocious musical talent quickly moved beyond his local piano teachers, and he was sent to boarding school in England at Eton. There, alongside his advanced musical training, he began a career in rowing – a sport in which he would win a gold medal at the 1908 Olympic Games. From Eton to Oxford to conservatorium studies in Frankfurt, he excelled as both pianist and composer, writing his first symphony (which he modestly titled a Suite) in his mid 20s. The work, here renamed German Symphony, displays an astonishing fluency and command of orchestral colour, with hints of Brahms and Mahler and finishing with a magnificently extravagant fugue.

Tantalisingly, we know from Kelly’s diaries that he composed at least two other symphonies, but never wrote them out. Three months before his death, he spoke of his many compositions ‘waiting to be written – but there is no time to get them down on paper.’ We do, however, have two major orchestral works which highlight the depth of the talent which was lost to us. The first of these is a Serenade of transcendental beauty for flute, harp, horn and strings, written at sea, on a journey home to Australia: the first movement on the Indian Ocean, the second off the coast of Western Australia, the third in the Great Australian Bight, the fourth off the coast of Victoria and the fifth off the coast of NSW.

In the Elegy in memoriam Rupert Brooke, Kelly pours out his grief in the wake of the death of the poet Rupert Brooke. The two had become close friends en route to Gallipoli, but Brooke was to die of septicaemia before they reached the Dardanelles. The music, composed in a dug-out with bullets whistling overhead, recalls the haunting beauty and strange tranquillity of Brooke’s funeral, conducted by moonlight on the eve of battle in an olive grove on the Greek island of Skyros, the air perfumed with wild sage and thyme.

TRACKLISTING

CD1

1   Elegy in memoriam Rupert Brooke

German Symphony*

2   I.   Allegro con brio

3   II.  Waltz

4   III.Intermezzo

5   IV.Introduction and Fugue

6   Scherzo*

7   The Somme Lament arr. Christopher Latham*

CD2

1   A Coin for the Ferryman* arr. Latham

Two Organ Preludes arr. Latham

2   Prelude No. 1 on ‘Good King Wenceslas’ (Christmas Prelude)*

3   Prelude No. 2*

Serenade for flute, harp, horn and strings

4   I.   Prelude

5   II.  Idyl

6   III.Minuet

7   IV.Air and Variations

8   V.  Jig

Douglas Mackie flute, Marshall McGuire harp, Geoff Lierse horn

Songs of Love and Loss arr.Latham (tks 9-11, 13) and Kelly (tk 12)*

9   It Is Not Dawn Till You Awake

10  Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day

11  Music, When Soft Voices Die 

12  Aghadoe

13  Crossing the Bar

Andrew Goodwin tenor (tks 9, 11, 13)

Christina Wilson mezzo-soprano (tks 10, 12, 13)

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

Benjamin Northey, Johannes Fritzsch(CD1 tk 1) conductors

* World premiere recordings

Release
Music can change lives. For almost 20 years, the Hush Foundation has been working with renowned Australian artists to create music of joy and calm – originally to support children in hospital, and now enjoyed everywhere from concert halls to living rooms. In this latest offering from the Hush series, pianist Tony Gould and guitarist Peter Petrucci present music that can bring optimism even in the toughest times.The Hush Foundation, under the inspirational leadership of physician Professor Catherine Crock AM, transforms the healthcare experience for patients, families and staff through music and the performing arts. It has produced 17 albums, bringing some of Australia’s finest performers and composers together in collaborative partnerships that engage with the lived experience of people in the health system and other stressful environments. Hush albums are played not only in hospitals, but also in aged care, palliative care and childcare facilities to reduce stress and anxiety. Community and international orchestras also play music composed for Hush. In 2014, Hush’s contribution to Australian music was acknowledged with the APRA/AMCOS Award for Excellence.Gathering of Kindness recognises the power of the small acts of kindness and respect that build trust and create a sense of safety and security in difficult and challenging situations. ‘When we ask patients, their families and those working in healthcare “What matters to you?”’ says Professor Crock, ‘the single word at the top of the list is kindness.’Tony Gould and Peter Petrucci wrote the music on this album with the Hush ‘family’ firmly in mind. ‘We hope they serve at least one of music’s purposes in life, and that is to help calm our fellow humans in times when things aren’t going so well. Music can do this superbly. It can also give us joy, can foster kindness and a sense that, ultimately, everything will be all right.’ This latest album has been named after the healthcare events Hush has hosted since 2016. The Gathering of Kindness bring people working in health and aged care together to talk about ways kindness can flourish in their organisations and services. These events are being hosted throughout November at metro, regional and rural healthcare organisations across Victoria, and include live performances of Hush plays and music, healthcare book launches and panels, narrative and a range of self-care workshops, as well as updates on new research being undertaken. Hush is also hosting a ticketed event at KPMG in Melbourne on Thursday 14 November.›Pianist / composer / critic / author / academic / educator Tony Gould has been involved in music in Australia for over half a century. A prolific performer, composer and recording artist across several musical genres of art music, Tony has composed and performed alongside other renowned musicians Australia-wide and internationally. His numerous accolades include membership of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his contribution to music.Peter Petrucci is one of Australia’s leading jazz guitarists, recognised for his virtuosity and lyricism in improvisations and artful compositions. He has released eight albums – the latest, They Know That We Know, in August 2019. Peter has performed locally and internationally supporting distinguished musicians and has appeared at numerous international jazz festivals, in the US, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and the Wangaratta, Stonnington and Queensland Jazz Festivals. TRACKLISTING 1 All Things Good2 Anthem3 Calm4 Autumn Lullaby5 Quiet6 Spring Town7 It’s Up to You8 A Little Folk Song9 Essence10 Truth and Beauty11 The Softness of Air12 The Smile Peter Petrucci guitar – Tony Gould piano Tks 1-3, 5, 8, 10-12 composed by Tony Gould.Tks 4, 6, 7 and 9 composed by Peter Petrucci.