Monday, December 01, 2008

Lilburn, the Nordic Kiwi

It is a pity that for many classical music lovers New Zealand's top composer Douglas Lilburn (1915-2001) is still a virtual unknown. His orchestral works, first and foremost his three symphonies, are well worth hearing. There are as is to be expected influences of English composers in his work, such as Bax, Walton and Vaughan Williams (with whom he studied in the late nineteen thirties), but also of nordic composers, such as Nielsen and Sibelius. The first two symphonies were composed around 1950 and present themselves as very accessible music, melodic without bursting into too memorable tunes. The third, composed about a decade later, is slightly more complicated and shows 12-tone influences. I do not own the Naxos CD in this case (having bought the Comtinuum release that was available earlier), but from the critics I have read about it, this well-filled CD (about 75 minutes) makes a great introduction to this Nordic Kiwi.