Classical Reissue Reviews

“Dreamtiger – East-West Encounters” = COLIN McPHEE: Balinese Ceremonial Music; DOUGLAS YOUNG: Trajet/Inter/Lignes; OLIVIER MESSIAEN: Canteyodjaya; GEORGE CRUMB: Vox Balaenae – Dreamtiger – Cameo Classics

Some audio archeology is required but mostly worth it.

Published on December 26, 2013

“Dreamtiger – East-West Encounters” = COLIN McPHEE: Balinese Ceremonial Music; DOUGLAS YOUNG: Trajet/Inter/Lignes; OLIVIER MESSIAEN: Canteyodjaya; GEORGE CRUMB: Vox Balaenae – Dreamtiger – Cameo Classics

Dreamtiger – East-West Encounters” = COLIN McPHEE: Balinese Ceremonial Music; DOUGLAS YOUNG: Trajet/Inter/Lignes; OLIVIER MESSIAEN: Canteyodjaya; GEORGE CRUMB: Vox Balaenae – Dreamtiger (Kathryn Lukas, flute/Rohan de Saram, cello/Douglas Young, piano and percussion/Peter Hill, piano) – Cameo Classics CC9018CD, 57:32 (Original LP, 1982) [Distr. by Nimbus Records] ***:

Substantial internet research was required in the absence of any booklet or liner notes if you want to know who these folks are. Dreamtiger is named after a Jorge Luis Borges short story – was, apparently, a British contemporary music ensemble led by composer Douglas Young and featuring pianist Peter Hill, flutist Kathryn Lukas and cellist Rohan de Saram. They made the rounds in the U.K. and thereabouts promoting contemporary music, including Young’s own pieces, between the mid-1970s and early 1980s. They made few if any recordings beyond the present.  East-West Encounters was the ensemble’s signature LP from 1982, a collection of Eastern-influenced works by 20th century composers, following Dreamtiger’s 1980 U.K. tour.

Balinese Ceremonial Music by Colin MacPhee is one of his many gamelan-inspired works; in this case for two pianos, inspired by his solitude on the island between 1932 and 1938. I discovered that the composer and Benjamin Britten at the piano first recorded Balinese Ceremonial Music on a Schirmer’s Library of Recorded Music 78 rpm disc published in the early 1940s.

Dreamtiger founder, pianist and composer Douglas Young’s Trajet/Inter/Lignes for solo flute and small percussion was premiered in 1981 by flutist Kathryn Lukas. This is a colorful work utilizing a nearly improvisatory approach and flavored by the tone and skill set of Kathryn Lukas.

Peter Hill undertook a project in the early 1980s to record the complete piano music of Messiaen’s piano music for British label Unicorn-Kanchana. I have always loved the exotic but peaceful and reverent sound of Messian’s writing. This 1982 version of Canteyodjaya was completely unknown to me. The work was written in 1949 and uses Hindu rhythms, as are often found in Messiaen’s work. The score includes names that are taken from this work, and also from Carnatic musical theory.

The closing work is Dreamtiger’s rendition of the classic Vox Balaenae, George Crumb‘s poetic evocation of whale songs, from 1971, for electric flute, electric cello, and amplified piano. I am still partial to the Nonesuch original recording but this version is quite good.

Except for the Douglas Young work, there are other more recent and more sonically compelling recordings of the McPhee, the Messiaen and the Crumb works to be had. It seems that Dreamtiger was a cutting edge new music ensemble in the U.K. and, for fans, this is a good reissue in a clean CD remaster worth having, I guess. The ensemble did some really fine work and, to my knowledge, Young is still living in England. I just wish I knew more about this fascinating, high quality ensemble.

—Daniel Coombs




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