Melbourne Composers’ League: a wonderful collaboration between two countries

In a wonderful collaboration between two countries separated by such distance Melbourne audiences were able to hear live three of Albania’s leading and truly innovative composers alongside compositions by members of the Melbourne Composers’ League. The history is wonderful and so were the compositions and the performers.

Dorian Cene, probably the leading modernist composer resident in Albania, is an artist at the height of his creativity and musicianship. His Points of View III for flute and piano (2016) was a translucent breath of fresh air full of inventive sounds for the flute. This work shimmers and its magic derives much from the contrast that Cene imbues in the work.

A work I have heard several times before Pa titul (No Title), by Enis Mullaj, again made me admire the musical thinking of this composer. At only 4 minutes it is able to quickly transport the listener to a place of deep contemplation. Little memories of this passionate music linger on. Flautist Johanna Selleck and Danaë Killian piano gave riveting performances of these little jewels. Selleck also performed the only solo work in the concert, the atmospheric Emeralds of Dew by Silvia Simons. Great playing!

Eve Duncan, with her Come with me to Crystal Creek for Horn and Piano (2019) and Andrián Pertout’s Vue de l’aigle for Horn and Piano, no. 450 (2018) received beautiful and powerful performances by hornist Carla Blackwood and Danaë Killian. Duncan’s work is full of drama and is exciting to hear live whilst Pertout’s work allows time for Blackwood to develop a honeyed tone which is perfectly balanced by the elegant and rhythmic playing by Killian in this incredibly emotionally wide ranging work.

Violinist Helen Bower and Danaë Killian performed two works, Sonata for violin and piano no.1 (2009) by Ajet Çekiçi and my own Dream Song. It was evident that much care was taken in the preparation of these works. Çekiçi’s work hints at the great tradition of violin sonata repertoire from eastern and southern Europe. I particularly enjoyed his super soft and gentle finish with its hint of sadness – maybe for a bygone era.

I recently reviewed a superb CD by Johanna Selleck for this classikON site and again Selleck delivered the goods in her Signal for flute, violin, horn and piano (2019). Virtuosic writing for all instruments was part of the aural experience that this is a work that is always on edge even when the music loses its frenzy and become comes soft. Selleck, Blackwood, Bower and Killian performed this work with a cohesion that was astonishing and Houston Dunleavy’s Shock, for the same instrumentation, also received a great performance highlighting the conflict the composer conveyed between music of an aggressive nature and that which was at peace with the world.

Concerts of this nature come by ever so infrequently and more the pity as it was simply a great event and special praise should go out to the Albanian community in Melbourne, indeed, across our country, which supported the music of the Albanian composers.

The Melbourne Composers’ League | Song of the Eagle
New Chamber Music from Australia and Albania
17 July, 2022, Church of All Nations, Carlton, Melbourne

Johanna Selleck (flute)
Carla Blackwood (French horn)
Helen Bower (violin)
Danaë Killian (piano)