Tuesday, November 16, 2021

"Secret Garden" reveals calming mystique

The Secret Garden for piano trio 

by Sally Greenaway

Live Music Stream, November 12

Reviewed by Tony Magee

IN THIS second piece of a musical triptych entitled “The Strawberry Thief”, Canberra composer Sally Greenaway takes the listener on another magical programatic journey with “The Secret Garden”, scored for piano, flute and cello.

L-R: David Shaw, Edward Neeman and Samuel Payne in the Larry Sitsky Room, ANU School of Music.
Botanical animation by Marisa Martin. Video still by Luke Patterson.

This live stream with excellent sound production and camera angles, also included discreet and beautiful botanical animation by Marisa Martin.

Flute and cello murmurs combine in gentle interaction, also serving as a statement of musical theme, later joined by glorious flowing arpeggios from the piano.

A second main theme is taken over by cello and then by piano in contrasting octaves.

The flute compliments this beautiful melody with flutterings and other musical ornamentation. Perhaps these are birds and also leaves dancing in a breeze.

Conceived as an Australian bush setting, Greenaway also hints at an English garden, possibly neglected and overgrown, hidden away somewhere. The Englishness extends to remind the listener of Delius and Vaughan Williams at times.

Edward Neeman on piano, Samuel Payne on cello and David Shaw on flute all played with immense beauty and tenderness, luxuriating in a softly spoken E flat minor, the musical phrases contrasted with delicate tierce de Picardie cadence points in A flat major, the gentle melody enveloping the listener in a soothing wash of mystical sounds.

One can imagine a visitor to the secret garden entering cautiously, only to have their curiosity rewarded with wonder, peacefulness, serenity and calm.

What a joyous experience it must be to have such a place to retreat to.

“The Secret Garden” is available on Greenaway’s forthcoming CD, “Delights and Dances” or for purchase via unlimited streaming from sallygreenaway.bandcamp.com

First published in Canberra City News Digital Edition, November 12, 2021