Weereewa – Voices of the Land
Released March 2014
CD reviewed by Clinton White
Argentine-Australian composer and pianist Marcela Fiorillo’s commissioned work “Suite Weereewa, Op 3” and her focus on presenting music by Australian composers as well as works by her Argentine compatriots won her a Canberra Critics Circle music award in 2014.
“Weereewa” got its world premiere airing at the CD launch concert in March 2014. The euphoria and spontaneity at that concert flow through to Fiorillo’s CD.
True to her passion for music by Argentine composers, the CD opens with a piano transcription of “Danza Orgiástica” by Juan Carlos Zorzi, from his ballet “Salamanca”. Its driving Latin rhythm and melody line is as captivating as it is mysterious in its dance with the devil.
Then Fiorillo turns to the music of the late patriarch of Australian composition, Peter Sculthorpe. Fiorillo is masterly in her understanding and interpretation of his typically evocative music in two short pieces, imagining the starkness of a dry salt lake bed in “Callabonna” and the majesty of the Tasmanian landscape in “Mountains”.
Probably the successor to the title of patriarch is Ross Edwards. In his piece, “Etymalong”, Fiorillo conveys its extraordinary mystery and symbolism, inspired by natural sounds and sacred places.
In quite a contrast, Fiorillo takes us back to Argentina and “Three Pieces for Piano, op 6” by Alberto Ginastera, recorded in New York in 2001. The pieces were dedicated to three women pianists from different regions of Argentina and, so, evoke the landscapes and cultures from those regions. Each of them is more melodic in structure than the previous offerings on the album, demanding much light and shade, expressive interpretation and even delivery of little surprises, which Fiorillo does with aplomb.
Closing the CD program is its highlight, Fiorillo’s own “Weereewa Suite, Op 3”. In writing the work, Fiorillo authored texts to introduce each of the four movements. The narrations were translated into the Ngunnawal language and Duncan Smith recorded them. Like the other Australian works on the album, “Weereewa” is highly symbolic and evocative of Australian landscapes and Aboriginal cultures. The imaginative writing and the highly virtuosic playing convincingly conveys what obviously is deeply meaningful and important to Fiorillo.
Weereewa – Voices of the Land is not a CD for background listening. Don’t bother to try to do the washing up to it. There aren’t any familiar tunes for whistling to. The music is highly intellectual and the virtuosic playing demands undivided attention. So when you buy this album, give it the respect it quite richly deserves.