(Photograph by Nikola Gurovic Oct 2022)
Hammerblow - Saxophone & Piano
HD Duo - Music of the Commonwealth
Review August 27, 2022, Gwen Bennett in 'Loud Mouth'
'Integral to understanding Hammerblow by Australian composer Brenton Broadstock is to read lines by poet Henrik Ibsen:
Hammerblow by hammerblow Until the last day of life, No ray of morning light; No sunrise of hope.
Whilst the poetic images may be bleak, the music is energetic and intense. A frenetic burst at the start leads to a perpetuum mobile that leaves one breathless. Percussive, stabbing chords in piano might be the hammerblows of the title – they reappear regularly, reinforced by the saxophone; a somewhat argumentative interchange between the two instruments briefly intervenes in the restless, endless motion. Pianissimo, almost silent music provides respite through tranquil, perhaps sad, passages, with a glorious melodic line for the saxophone. Noisy intrusions interrupt the calm several times, then a re-energised momentum returns apace toward the optimistic ending. This powerful piece is totally riveting and a tour-de-force for the Duo.'
The Nurses at Vung Tau - Opera
Review July 3, Jenna Robertson in 'Loud Mouth'
Reviews can be a mixed blessing! Of course, it all depends on the reviewer - their ability to understand the complexity and depth of a musical composition, their ability to critically discuss the music without the myopia of their personal biases and prejudices (this is a hard one for anybody!), their ability to be articulate and actually describe accurately what they have seen and heard and their ability to hear and see the 'big picture' of a work, its structure, its place in the genre and its potential, ie. its life in a different or more sympathetic setting (ie, better performers, better venue, better presentation etc).
So, to get an excellent review by Jenna Robertson (who I don't know!), published in Loud Mouth by the Music Trust (an arts advocacy organisation founded by Richard Letts AM), was a great surprise and delight. Not only did she critically describe the opera - presentation, libretto and music - with much articulateness and insight informed by an obvious knowledge of music theatre and opera, she also gave very welcome and accurate criticism for improvement.
I have had many reviews over the past 40 years, good and bad and some you wondered if the reviewer was even at the concert! So, when you get a 'good' critique, it is a very pleasant revelation - thank you Jenna!!
Read Jenna's full review HERE
The Nurses at Vung Tau. Opera by Brenton Broadstock and Elizabeth Lewis | Loud Mouth - The Music Trust Ezine
Syzygy - ensemble
'It is fitting that Broadstock’s ode to the group carries forward this sense of affirmation and optimism. Indeed where some have delved deeply into dark matter on this album, Syzygy is celebratory of life, of the ensemble and of music. The piece opens with an upwardly flourishing fanfare from the whole group and then each instrument has a solo, with just vague harmonic or textural support from one or two other instruments. Laila Engles is a vivacious flautist with quite astonishing technique and this is allowed to shine through in her solo. The other solos are more contemplative, the cello – you can hear Blair Harris breathing into each phrase and where many composers stretch to embrace the cello’s higher notes, Broadstock has here explored the sonorities of the lower register, milking the C string’s resonance and charting a romantic melody which is incredibly moving. This is the fate too, of the piano where lush, thick harmonies and syncopated rhythms are navigated across the full range of the instrument. I always think of the clarinet as an instrument of awakening and this is very much the feel of the solo here accompanied by this haunting breathiness on flute. The violin solo is also romantic, gorgeously evocative and gradually, with cello sympathetically emerging and other instruments joining in, a virtuosic frolic is sustained with all parts disparate and yet united. It leads to greater momentum – a sense of the journey of the ensemble. It is based on shorter and longer melodic motifs explored both in unison and separately and it all becomes quite jazzy and train-like. It is such a joyous ride.'
Reviewed by Mandy Stefanakis, The Music Trust, December 1st, 2015
Brenton Broadstock’s Made in Heaven Concerto For Orchestra (2009/2013) is an abstract tribute to the iconic jazz recording Kind of Blue (1959) that featured a royal family of jazz artists including Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. The concerto’s four movements – So What?, Flamenco Sketches, Blue in Green and All Blues are cyphers, Broadstock’s compositional language opaque rather than literal. Like Schwartz, Broadstock is a master of ebb and flow, managing the vast orchestral soundscapes of Made in Heaven with magical realist results, like the sound imagery in Flamenco Sketches, the quizzical temperament of So What? and moody introversion of Blue in Green. Rhythm and pulse the heart and soul of jazz, bring Broadstock’s visionary homage full circle with the playful last movement All Blues.
Daniel Kepl - Performing Arts Review
Made In Heaven - orchestra
Broadstock wrote Made In Heaven – a love song to Miles Davis’s iconic Kind of Blue – in 2009 as a concerto for James Morrison (on multiple instruments) during his tenure as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Composer in Residence, revising the work as a ‘concerto for orchestra’ in 2013.
The movements correspond to tracks on Davis’s album; the first, for instance, takes the simple repeating cell from So What, expanding and transforming it in broad orchestral colours. It’s a work of glittering colour and gleaming brass – a perfect companion to the Schwartz.
Angus McPherson, Limelight Magazine October 2018
I Had A Dream - SATB a capella
‘More beauty came with Brenton Broadstock’s “I Had a Dream”, a musical memory or spiritual inspiration for the life and soul of musician Michael Easton. Poignant, humble, delicately performed with almost simplicity and resignation.’
Julie McErlain 4th July, 2018 Classic Melbourne Music News and Views
Australian Chamber Choir at Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Middle Park, June 24, 2018.
Aurora Australis - 8 Saxophones
Brenton Broadstock’s “Aurora Australis” began almost on the edge of silence, then several members of the orchestra grew their sound slowly until the composition built into a wall of music and then into a fast-pace combination of varying tunes all sounding at once.
The depth of the bass sax at great volume was felt in the gut as the music wafted across the audience in waves of discordant sound, as soloists came in and out through a deep oscillating pulse. Then, to emulate the beginning, but in reverse, the arrangement died away into a diffused portrait of ambient music; it was quite an experience.
Sydney Conservatorium of Music Saxophone Orchestra. At the National Portrait Gallery, May 17.
Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY. City News May 2018
L-R....Katia Beaugeais (composer), Matthew Orlovich (composer), Jay Byrnes (conductor), Michael Duke (conductor and soloist), Brenton Broadstock (composer), Natalie Williams (composer) and Mathew Hindson (curator)
The Second Wedding Singer - Simon Hall (aka Yon) (arrangements by BB)
Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Adelaide Cabaret Festival June 21 & 22
The show continues with stories of love, lost juice, and break ups, but not in the usual way, but by way of song. Perfectly executed by Simon’s impressive vocal stamina and a choir of brass and percussion impeccably arranged.
Tony Polese EventAdelaide June 22
Some of the songs are good, some of them are brilliant. They are all stunningly arranged, and delivered with flair and finesse by the Brass Ring, played tonight by the irrepressible Marion City Band.... Hall plays a great MC, intertwining brilliantly arranged songs with tales of love, loss and his mate with a foot fetish.
Tom Bowden The Advertiser June 22
My Feet Want To Dance But My Eyes Want To Sleep
“Brenton Broadstock’s appealing, easy-going My Feet Want To Dance, But My Eyes Want To Sleep. Inspired the middle-aged composer’s failure to make it to the end of an extended club-crawl, it’s an attractive 11-minute septet for flute, clarinet, piano and string quartet, here played by Kiran Phatak, Lloyd Van’t Hoff, Amir Farid, Marianne Broadfoot, Kerry Martin, Jacqui Cronin and Rowena Macneish. Beginning more like an early 20th-century aubade, the work gradually gathers steam to become a swirling dance, its bluesy overtones betraying its 21st-century provenance. The seven young players were thoroughly inside Broadstock’s crowd-pleasing sound world.”
Clive Paget, Limelight Magazine April 24, 2017
Safe Haven - Enso Quartet
“Composer Brenton Broadstock’s new piece for string quartet, Safe Haven (2016), was composed in honour of a woman called Marianne. She came to Australia as a child, a refugee from the Hungarian revolution of 1956. At its world premiere performance on Monday night, Broadstock’s conjoined three-movement piece (depicting Escape, Through a Child’s Eyes and Safe Haven) proved to be another important addition to Australia’s already impressive string quartet repertoire. Broadstock threaded the melody of a Hungarian nursery song Boci Boci Tarka through the fabric of his well-proportioned, structurally assured piece. Virtually imperceptible in the densely swirling textures of the opening Escape, the song’s melodic shards gradually emerged in the other two movements, thereby mirroring Marianne’s flight to safety. The Enso String Quartet’s strong tempo and dynamic contrasts, shrewd tonal variety and tight-knit ensemble successfully realised Safe Haven’s wide expressive range and textural intricacy.”
Murray Black, The Australian May 31
“The Broadstock started proceedings, a surprise birthday gift from a loving husband for Marianne, a woman whose parents brought her to Australia from Hungary. The work, Safe Haven, duly uses the Hungarian nursery song Boci Boci Tarka (a bit like Baa Baa Black Sheep, but about a kind of Eastern European cow) at various points to suggest a child’s journey from a place of danger to one of safety. It’s an accessible work in three sections employing an acerbic tonality and a wide range of string effects. As such, it provided the Ensōs with an ideal vehicle to display their boldness of attack, impeccable tone, immaculate blend and single-minded commitment to dramatic storytelling. The first sections, full of slips and slides and scurrying strings, transported us instantly to the dangerous world of war-torn Europe. The more melodic second movement, which pulled back to look at things from a child’s-eye viewpoint, was sweet, but felt a trifle overlong – like Twinkle, Twinkle, Boci Boci can wear out its welcome. Fortunately, the radiant viola solo leading into the third part pulled us into the safety of a warm tonality and brought the work to a charming conclusion. Marianne should have been delighted.”
Clive Paget, Limelight Magazine May 31
“Broadstock’s work was the most moving on the program — a 15-minute work in three sections depicting the journey of a girl, Marianne, who came to Australia to escape the Hungarian uprising. Central to the work is the simple Hungarian nursery rhyme Boci Boci Tarka, which was the real Marianne’s “security blanket” as she and her parents escaped the guns and tanks of Budapest to a safe haven in Sydney.”
Steve Moffatt, Daily Telegraph May 31
“A new work by Brenton Broadstock, Safe Haven, had as its theme the refugee experience seen with the eyes of a child – a topic with obvious political connotations in the contemporary context. But the music was no strident piece of musical protest. Rather, it was a deeply felt expression of human experience that moved from anxiety to security across its three movements. It was beautifully played by the Enso Quartet.“ Stephen Whittington, Adelaide Advertiser June 20
Never Truly Lost - Australian Chamber Orchestra The world premiere of Melbourne-born Brenton Broadstock’s Never Truly Lost began part two. A commission by Robert and Nancy Pallin to commemorate the life of Robert’s father, the famous bushwalker Paddy Pallin, this warmly attractive piece was reminiscent of Peter Sculthorpe in his out-of-doors vein with all the appeal of a Vaughn Williams rhapsody. Taking us on a musical walk in the bush, more meditative than dramatic, this rapturous work deserves a wider hearing in the future.
Never Truly Lost - Australian Chamber Orchestra
After interval came Broadstock’s shimmering, haunting Never Truly Lost, commissioned by the family of the late Paddy Pallin, swirling and spiky with a pulsating cello. In the composer’s own words, this is, “a journey through an imaginary landscape and (an) imaginary bushwalk”. Vanska’s violin playing was sparse yet exquisite, the finale having the feel of the creation of stars, with a sonar pulse sound. At the end of this piece there was a stunned silence then tumultuous applause.
Lynne Lancaster on Nov 24, 2013 Sydney Arts Guide
Tyranny of Distance - Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Hamer Hall, October 17
Review: Clive O'Connell, The Age
Times have changed. At one stage, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra presented the opening night extravaganza for the Melbourne International Arts Festival: Yan Pascal Tortelier directing the Berlioz Damnation of Faust or Maxim Vengerov stunning audiences with his realisation of the Beethoven Violin Concerto. In recent years, now that the orchestra has resumed a part in proceedings, the accent has shifted to Australian compositions. A larger-than-anticipated audience attended Saturday night's premiere of a major new score: Brenton Broadstock's Symphony No 6, Tyranny of Distance, conducted by Warwick Stengards.
Suggested by Geoffrey Blainey's classic history, the composer finds in its title resonances beyond this continent's one-time isolation from its all-important colonising reference points. In three movements, the symphony's hefty vocal content starts with Donne's Meditation XVII on ''No man is an island'', moves to epigrams about life's journey, and ends peacefully with four versions of a homecoming more intellectual than physical.
As well as a full orchestra, Broadstock writes for a choir and soprano soloist, as well as employing a didgeridoo to bracket his work and link its movements.
The opening Donne setting is a magniloquent construct that on this occasion called repeatedly on the highest possible notes from soprano Merlyn Quaife over a surging orchestral accompaniment.
The orchestration is masterly, loaded with passages of imposing eloquence. Broadstock follows this with a massive scherzo that pounds the listener with a relentless barrage of percussion-led writing, rich also in hefty writing for brass choir and featuring pages of scrubbing work for the strings. In this maelstrom, the text from both Quaife and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus proved indecipherable, sometimes simply inaudible.
Consequently, the final slow movement brought welcome relief, the hectic pace abandoned for subtle gleams of orchestral light and a calmly lyrical line for the soprano punctuating warm choral passages before all sounds slowly die away except for Jida Gulpipil's quietly assertive, unvirtuosic didgeridoo.
Yes, the journey section contains exciting moments but, like Quaife's high tessitura, the effect is of excess, the material extended well past its effective length.
Tyranny of Distance - Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Written by Rachel Orzech - Australian Stage, Sunday, 18 October 2009 22:48
A Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concert with an all-Australian program is a rare thing, but then the Melbourne International Arts Festival specialises in promoting rare, unusual and interesting art that Melburnians would not normally have the chance to experience. On Saturday night, the MSO performed a one-off program which included Julian Yu’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and the world premiere of Brenton Broadstock’s Symphony No. 6 Tyranny of Distance.
Pictures at an Exhibition has been arranged many times before, and Ravel’s brilliantly colourful orchestral transcription is more well-known than Mussorgsky’s original piano suite. But Yu felt that he had ‘something fresh to say about it’, and his arrangement is on a much smaller scale than many of the other versions. Scored for a fifteen-piece orchestra with only five string instruments, the orchestration concentrated on subtle and delicate arrangements of colour and timbre. Unusual timbral effects, such as having the viola play the sweet opening melody, or using a combination of sliding violins and breathy sweeps on the piccolo to create wind-like sounds, encouraged the listener to appreciate the attention to detail.
Yu writes that a smaller orchestra is better able to express the ‘subtlety and sensitivity of detail of the original piece’, which can be lost in the loud, powerful sound of a full orchestra, and his arrangement does great justice to these details in an interesting and occasionally quirky way. The only time when I felt it didn’t work was in the grand theme of the last movement, where the orchestra just didn’t sound big enough – it was almost as if Yu had slipped back into writing for a full orchestra but without its larger, more impressive resources. But otherwise his transcription is a welcome addition to the growing collection of orchestral versions of this work.
Brenton Broadstock is the MSO Composer in Residence for this year, but his Sixth Symphony was begun two years ago. Written for a large orchestra, chorus (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus), solo soprano (Merlyn Quaife), didgeridoo (Jida Gulpilil), and visual artist (Tim Gruchy), everything about this work was on a massive scale, in contrast to the intricate detail of Yu’s piece. The music seemed to be forever moving towards a crescendo, then resting momentarily, and then beginning to grow once again.
Merlyn Quaife’s powerful voice rang out above the orchestra and chorus with richness and strength, representing the individual, the ‘island’, amongst the masses. There was an apocalyptic feeling about much of the music – huge, dramatic choral chords, the chiming of bells and constant orchestral surges and climaxes.
Amidst all this largeness and loudness, the unique sound of the didgeridoo had a grounding effect on the music. At first I was unsure of how the instrument would work in the orchestral context; Broadstock himself writes that, ‘For me, it is an instrument that does not easily fit into the Western orchestra.’ But his aim was for the didgeridoo to engage with the orchestra, rather than assimilate with it (which suggests an interesting political and cultural metaphor), and by the end of the work I was convinced: the solo didgeridoo brought an end to the symphony with a beautiful sense of stillness and timelessness. Broadstock had not notated anything for Gulpilil – instead he simply had to somehow respond to the orchestra in specific places, and he did this with incredible sensitivity.
Visual artist Tim Gruchy was similarly expected to respond to the orchestra, sitting in its midst with his laptop as his constantly changing images of fire, water, and natural and urban environments were projected onto a large screen above the orchestra. I found the images very distracting – when I’m listening to a new piece of live music, I want to be able to concentrate fully on the sound and watch the musicians. There were so many things happening onstage at this concert: orchestra, conductor, choir, vocalist, didgeridoo (as well as some very detailed program notes and text to read and take in). It just seemed unnecessary to add another element to all of this, and the music itself certainly stood on its own two feet without visual explanation or enhancement. However, other people I spoke to felt that the images helped them navigate the work, so perhaps this was just a matter of personal preference.
Tyranny of Distance is an exciting new orchestral work and it was a privilege to attend its world premiere and to watch such a large assemblage of Melbourne musicians commit themselves to music by a Melbourne composer.
Broadstock's 'Tyranny of Difference' Melbourne // VIC // 17.10.2009 by Mark Viggiani
The most significant contribution of the MSO to the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival was the premiere of Brenton Broadstock's Symphony No. 6, entitled Tyranny of Distance. For this huge work, for large orchestra, chorus, soprano and didjeridu, Broadstock has borrowed his title from Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey, but interprets it in a much wider and more personal sense than that of geopolitics. In his program notes, he suggests rather the phrase 'tyranny of difference' is in some ways more appropriate, as his concerns are manifold: the distance of time relating to our acceptance of mortality, the tyranny of physical limitation, the tyranny of human isolation and the tyranny of intellectual and philosophical distance which prevents us from solving global problems.
To elucidate these concerns, Broadstock has chosen to set a variety of texts from different cultures and eras, starting with excerpts from John Donne's 'No man is an island'. This movement, the first of three, sets the tone for what is to come. Huge orchestral sonorities dominated by ample brass and rich choral writing provide a foil for the strident solo soprano line, delivered convincingly by Merlyn Quaife. The main body of the work follows, heavily driven by enthusiastic percussion and bass ostinati.
The texts for this section are derived from myriad sources, mostly short quotes from Middle and Far Eastern philosophers and poets. Due to the tremendous energy and volume of this movement, the texts themselves were unintelligible, serving as raw sound materials for the composer to base his verse structures on. The massive forces habitually overwhelmed the demanding soprano part, based mostly in the upper register. In this reading, conductor Warwick Stengards seemed more concerned with maintaining a high level of intensity than with delineating much in the way of light and shade in the score.
All of this rhythmic tension is released at the beginning of the final movement, where the soprano is allowed to linger on a single climactically high note. The concluding section allows the strings to be heard in better balance, as the material winds down in majestically slow sweeps.
The work was accompanied by artist Tim Gruchy's visual images projected onto a large screen above the orchestra. This journey-related imagery (night cityscapes, freeway maps, train stations) did not really add to the experience, but moved slowly and repetitively enough so as not to distract, though the initial psychedelic seascapes seemed incongruous. The screen could have been put to better use surtitling the text, which was unreadably small in the scrap of program provided.
More telling, visually, was the staging itself, with Quaife not out front, but beleaguered amidst a surging sea of violin bows, and Jida Gulpilil (didjeridu) marginalised and wearing red on far stage left. The didjeridu was used to link movements, and most effectively to conclude the work. Gulpilil had not been given any material to play but was allowed to react to the work in prescribed places as it unfolded. His final contribution welled up from Broadstock's last resolution, but was tonally disconnected, suggesting that perhaps the journey was not really over, or was about to begin again.
The orchestra itself was impressive on the occasion, showcasing the power and accuracy of the brass and percussion especially. Subsequent readings may benefit from further intelligibility of the text, through tweaking the balance and possibly the use of surtitles.
Made in Heaven - Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, soloist - James Morrison
Swing, Swing, Swing! Hamer Hall September 4, 5 and 6
Review: Clive O'Connell, The AGE September 8, 2009
In this year's final Pops concert, Keith Lockhart, current conductor of the Boston Pops, took the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on a sometimes surprising journey. It began with George Antheil's A Jazz Symphony from the mid-1920s, full of tricks and current shifts, and ended with MSO composer in residence Brenton Broadstock's freshly minted 'Made in Heaven', a contemporary tribute to Miles Davis.
A director well aware of his audience, Lockhart gave excellent, fluent introductions to each work, informative and amiable without wearing out his welcome. In John Williams' Swing, Swing, Swing!, David Thomas' clarinet surged out of the swirling orchestration with sympathetic rhythmic subtlety, achieving even more sharp-edged prominence in Bernstein's underrated Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, supported by an aggressive, enthusiastic wind ensemble.
Lockhart brought a welcome bounce to Gershwin's An American in Paris, which came across with a fresh crispness for once, and gave an unexpected persuasive edge to Ellington's sprawling Harlem: the best performance I've heard of the work. But the night centred on Broadstock's concerto, written for James Morrison, who oscillated between five instruments with unflappable mastery and gave this score a memorable premiere.
Broadstock's orchestration is packed with deft points, but its focus lies in a wealth of laid-back, long, lyrical lines and some fire-spitting pyrotechnics for his splendid soloist.
Hall Of Mirrors
Brett Kelly trombone solo and members of the MSO
Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Southbank Centre 22 March 2009
Following the interval was the only new work on offer in the program - Brenton Broadstock’s Hall of Mirrors (2009). Written for trombone, flute, clarinet, string quintet and percussion, this was a programmatic work that explored the concept of a musical hall of mirrors. Invited to introduce the work, Broadstock explained how the spatial and visual confounding of the senses, experienced when walking through a traditional hall of mirrors at a fun fair or amusement park, was the inspiration behind the work. In Broadstock’s piece, the composed musical hall of mirrors features the trombone as the cental protagonist who ‘moves through the hall, reacting with and against and dominating and driving the constantly changing musical material’.
Hall of Mirrors opened with a soft string texture of harmonic trills and glissandi, punctuated with the swells of bowed cymbals from percussionist Robert Clarke. Against this backdrop the trombone entered the tapestry of sonic reflections, providing muted melodic fragments and long slow glissandi – all beautifully controlled and balanced by the MSO’s principal trombonist Brett Kelly.
As the work developed, Hall of Mirrors revealed itself to be characterised by constantly changing instrumental colours and a strong sense of rhythmic propulsion. Broadstock displayed an excellent understanding of the expressive capabilities of the trombone, and the work successfully exploited the instrument's wonderful, singing quality. At times I would have liked to have heard a little more punch from the strings. This is not so much a criticism of the players but more an acknowledgement of the difficulties in blend and balance, posed by the instrumentation of the work. In the louder passages the dominant characteristics of the trombone and percussion against the lighter strings and winds occasionally threatened the ensemble balance.
Hall of Mirrors was very well received by the audience. The overall result seemed an effective and engaging realisation of Broadstock’s compositional intent. This was an accessible and enjoyable work, yet one also exhibiting a high level of craft and sophisticated engagement with its subject matter.
Anthony Lyons Resonate Magazine April 15, 2009
I touched your glistening tears
Bright Vessel Recent Australian Oboe Music.
Stephen Robinson - oboe, oboe d'amore, Elyane Laussade - piano Tall Poppies CD TP202
The real surprise was the work by Brenton Broadstock. Titled ‘I Touched Your Glistening Tears’ this work is very accessible to the listener with a highly melodic content that weaves and moves very well with the piano over this almost 9 minute work. This piece deserves a substantial listening along with the jazz rhythms and overall joy of Elena Kats-Chernin Charmer’s Apprentice. Stephen Moschner - Journal of the Australasian Double Reed Society
Sunburnt Land National Australia Brass, conducted by Professor David King. Melbourne International Festival of Brass, Melba Hall, Melbourne
David King played tribute to Dr. Brenton Broadstock’s unique compositional skills when introducing Sunburnt Land, music based on Dorothea McKellar’s patriotic poem of 1904 and written for King’s YBS Band tour of Australia in 2005. Broadstock’s expressive and demanding music conjures up a myriad of mental pictures. I swear I heard the torrential rain, the brooding sounds of an impending storm, clear still mornings in the cornet and horn passages and the sparseness and loneliness of the outback in the middle sections. The work was wonderfully conceived and appreciatively received. At its conclusion, Broadstock, like McKimm before him, was called to the stage and the composer and conductor – friends – embraced warmly. Merv Collins - 4barsrest.com October 20, 2008
Hall of Mirrors
Barrie Webb, trombone, Silo String Quartet
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, September 28, 2008
The remarkably impressive 'Hall of Mirrors' for trombone and string quartet by Brenton Broadstock grabs your attention with an exciting opening unison, and it continues with an interesting use of counterpoint and a rich harmonic density. Anthony Aibel - New York Concert Review
I Had a Dream Australian Chamber Choir directed by Douglas Lawrence
Central Hall, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne - 8pm November 22
Brenton Broadstock's 'I Had a Dream', in memory of Michael Easton, sets out a three-part elegy in haunting consonantal language, rising to an aggressive climax in the works's central questioning stages and achieving a throat-tightening power in its final soft repetitions of the line "I am remembered", here delivered with tactful understatement. Clive O'Connell, p23 The Age November 24, 2007
I Had a Dream Australian Chamber Choir directed by Douglas Lawrence Trinitatis Church, Copenhagen, 8pm July 20, 2007
Thanks to the expressiveness of the singing, Brenton Broadstock's 'I Had A Dream' became a most beautiful experience.
Berlingste Tidende, Copenhagen, July 23, 2007
good angel's tears Etcetera KTC 2026 (Netherlands)
Review: September 2007 Music web international
The Australian composer Brenton Broadstock was born in Melbourne. Apart from studying at Monash he has also pursued other musical studies with Donald Freund (Memphis State) and Peter Sculthorpe (Sydney). Prizes and commissions have deservedly come his way. Currently he is a professor at the Faculty of Music at Melbourne University. His music however is most unprofessorly as the five symphonies in this set issued some seven years ago amply demonstrate.
Broadstock does not place elitist obstacles between himself and the listener. His music speaks direct from the heart to the heart.
The First Symphony appropriates its title from Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. It is dedicated to Broadstock's son, Matthew. It charts the father's gradual realisation that Matthew was severely handicapped and the acceptance but not understanding of his condition. The music moves through ecstatic tonal realms related to the orchestral-pastoral music of Herbert Howells, through moments of Tippett-like lyrical aspiration to whoopingly uproarious tempests to a glowing resolution in an optimistic B major. Then follows a return to the long benediction of the horn writing that opens the work. This epiphany seems, and should seem, hard won. Along the way I recognised Broadstock's anger as a cousin to the same emotion that explodes in the symphonies of Malcolm Arnold.
The Second Symphony is dedicated to fellow Australian composer Barry Conyngham. This is a single movement piece of about the same duration as its predecessor. Here it is laid out in five tracks. The tense buzzing writing for strings and brass recalls the Sibelius Sixth Symphony but is more volcanically volatile. The music grumbles and brays in squat rasping terms. The title is taken from the title of a collection of Ivor Gurney's letters and reflects the many aspects of light in darkness: the parallels with schizophrenia and the tension in all of us between the negative and the positive. Forbidding assaults of sound contrast with the whispered starry twinkling benediction we know from the works of Urmis Sisask and - up to a point - in Valentin Silvestrov. The blessing in tracks 8 and 9 is transient though substantial, leaving the listener with a sense of the positive. The close (tr. 10) blazes, growls and howls with much barkingly abrasive work for the brass and the insistent tattoo of percussion. This is kinetically exuberant music which has its own excitement and drama. It parallels but with a certain roiling bleakness that of William Schuman at his most supercharged. If you enjoy Schuman's Third Symphony and Violin Concerto you should track this work down.
The ABC-commissioned Third Symphony is dedicated to his parents. It's in two movements each of which is here allocated two tracks. The work is a powerful expression of the feelings produced by watching Second World War Holocaust footage of Nazi execution squads murdering Jews. Then it sings an elegy for the Tasmanian aborigines who were systematically slaughtered by the white incomers. Like Broadstock's other symphonies this cannot escape the quality of blinding light with which he imbues the music but neither does he in any way tone down the barrages and gunshot impacts. All of these are stunningly and even forbiddingly caught by the gripping recording. Even in tempest the tiers and strata of the music remain lucid with the effect similar to the wilder reaches of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre and of Terteryan's eruptions in his Seventh and Eighth symphonies. There are a few Penderecki-style wails too but usually carried by the brass. The lava slides of the trombones and horns at the end of the first movement fleetingly recall Messiaen. The second movement has some of the elegiac ecstatic pastoral sense of the First Symphony. The idiom is the orchestral Howells of the 1920s and 1930s but with a modern edge. One soon gets to notice Broadstock fingerprints after listening to these symphonies and one of them is the eloquent oratory given to the brass instruments. The Third Symphony is a deeply impressive and moving work.
The Fourth Symphony is, as the notes by Dr Linda Kouvaras claim, the most consistently gentle, transcendental and reflective of these works. The exalted utopian nobility of this music recalls the psychedelic transcendentalism of Valentin Silvestrov's Fifth Symphony yet Broadstock retains that lucidity of texture which in the Russian composer can congeal. The pulse is steady, slowly singing, evolutionary carried by confiding Sibelian violins with lines spun over, above and through by brass, percussion, harp and woodwind. The music radiates the air of a yearningly expressive benediction with the piano discreetly touching in a timeless pulse in tr. 2, 1:12 (CD2). That pulse is inexorable. The golden belling horns carry the theme to heights of grandeur and thunderous towering exaltation at the end of the first movement and at the start of the very short (2.48) second movement.
The last work in this set is the longest: Broadstock's Fifth Symphony. Again it's in two movements with each movement, in this case, in four tracks. The title comes from Mark Twain who wrote that "everyone is a moon and has a dark side that he never shows to anyone". It was commissioned by Andrew Wheeler and the Krasnoyarsk orchestra. It is, it seems, the most autobiographical of his works. Here it is worth reminding ourselves that the dark side here referred to does not connote anything sinister: it is a reference to our inner self - our island of existence. The music moves through many episodes and early on (tr. 4) we encounter the same sense of confiding quiet eloquence with which the Fourth Symphony is rife. It quickly rises in tr. 5 to a superheated eloquence lofted high by trumpets and the brass choir. The buzzing Sibelian Luonnotar confidences of the violins (tr. 6 and later tr. 8 at the start and in the final drawing of breath in tr. 11) resolve into a balmy glowing lyricism close to Mahler's Adagietto but purer and without that layer of sentimental excess. This is a stunning golden work boiling a sense of kindly exaltation with a blazing kinetic forward pulse, hammered and sprinting.
After hearing what Wheeler and Broadstock achieved over nine days of recording sessions with this otherwise unknown orchestra other composers should be beating their way to Krasnoyarsk.
Broadstock is a doughty orchestrator whose skills are matched by his roistering volcanic confidence.
This set represents a magnificent vividly living achievement which I urge you to hear. Petition your local orchestra to put on any one of these symphonies and make the first one to be tackled the Fourth Symphony.
Timeless ABC Classics Australian Composer Series 476 8041 2005
This is another in the excellent and extensive Australian Composers Series from ABC. Broadstock has an interesting biography. He was brought up in the Salvation Army and had experience of brass bands when young – as well as a peripatetic “institutionalised” youth. Incidentally those addicted to Strine might like to know according to the booklet notes that down under the Salvation Army is known as the “Salvos”. Initially a trombonist Broadstock gravitated to bass guitar in a rock band. Later he studied composition in America and in Sydney with Sculthorpe.
This disc spans a good two decades’ worth of his work. We open with the rather Waltonian 1981 'Festive Overture' – all dynamic percussion, swirling strings and evincing a real insider’s knowledge of the brass section. Timeless is dedicated to his daughter and was composed in 2002. Written for string orchestra it ranges avidly from reflective stillness to almost Straussian effulgence. The final section brings the beauty of melancholy, one refined through experience to something approaching reconciliation. This is a lovely work – touching and unpretentious but full of life, colour and with a kind of narrative-emotive core running through it.
'The Mountain' is from an earlier period and is for chamber forces. It’s dedicated to his erstwhile teacher, Sculthorpe. The brass calls and pitch wobbles lend it a tense air but one senses a genetic link to Sibelius. The high winds and brass are chilly but the drive from about 5:00 is monumental. Later we have some translucent colours and textures, outer-spacey, as our gaze seems to rise from the peak to far beyond. In terms of sonority and direction this is maybe a lesser work than Timeless but its ambition and control are evident from the start.
'Federation Square: Rooms of Wonder' is more of an occasional piece, having been written for the opening of a city square – hence the title. “Rooms of Wonder”, the subtitle, alerts us to the quiet rapture of discovery. With its moments of enraptured stasis and brusquely angular writing this peace is plastic, almost sculptural. It has the effect of suggesting a head-turning excitement at the newness of the architecture. The pitch bending and motoric writing hint at the raw newness and the tenderness and aerial dancing sections convey the excitement of the Square.
Finally there’s the Fourth Symphony subtitled 'Born from Good Angel’s Tears'. It’s a compact work not appreciably longer than Federation Square. This was written in 1995. Slowly evolving lines have once more a complement of glissandi and pitch “switching.” And once more there’s a Sibelian sense of organic growth and development through these means are very different. There’s Golden Mean climax – strong and involving – and a warmly optimistic conclusion.
First class performances and values attend this issue – in every way a splendid platform for Broadstock and his exciting music.
Jonathan Woolf Musicweb-international, February 2007
Timeless ABC Classics Australian Composer Series 476 8041 2005
Twenty-two years of Broadstock's compositional techniques are showcased in these five selected works that represent evolutionary milestones of his early, middle and current phases.... This anthology demonstrate's Broadstock's serialised, prickly modernisms and rich neo-tonalities, which cleverly balance artistic expression alongside utterances of social conscience. Four Stars. Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra/Ola Rudner
Limelight Magazine March 2006
Timeless ABC Classics Australian Composer Series 476 8041 2005
Brenton Broadstock is an accomplished composer……. This collection of his work is terrific. His works Timeless, The Mountain, Federation Square and Symphony #4 are intensely rich. The TSO under Rudner accentuates the colour of the music and its Nordic flavours. The symphony is particularly fine, a lush, grand work of genuine spiritual depth. The TSO ought to be proud of this effort. Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra/Ola Rudner
Greg Barns, The Mercury March 4, 2006 (Tasmania)
Timeless ABC Classics Australian Composer Series 476 8041 2005 These bold and eloquent orchestral works should appeal to those who respond to neo-romanticism but have no objection to the seamless integration of more modernistic elements into what is basically a harmony-based, modal-tonal idiom. Sibelius is a very audible influence on Broadstock’s impressively broad landscape canvases; one feels his presence especially in the more recent works, in which Broadstock has more fully embraced a vocabulary based on tonal centers. There is a strong sense of a human element in Broadstock’s music; concerned as he is with social and environmental concerns, it is perhaps inevitable that he would seek to avoid ivory-tower abstraction, and all the works here, from the lively (very tonal) Festive Overture - which sounds just like what it says it is - to the brief, compressed Tapiola-like symphony (not much longer than the other works here, based on a modern fairy tale with a humanistic theme, quoted in extenso in the booklet) are instantly accessible and make their emotional point surely and accurately. Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra/Ola Rudner. Records International Jan 2007
good angel's tears Etcetera KTC 2026 (Netherlands)
Many composers have held to the idea that good music might help to make the world a better place. Few, however, have expressed it with stark, simple conviction of Australian composer Brenton Broadstock: 'As a human being, I believe that I have a moral obligation to do what I can to improve the society I live in. The corollary of this, as a human being who is predominantly involved in the artistic expression of music composition, is that I am morally obliged to improve society through my art.' Nowhere in the oeuvre of this respected composer - now in mid-career - is this belief more convincingly displayed than in his five symphonies, which here receive their first complete recording. And there's ample time to judge: the shortest work runs to 20 minutes, the longest to 39, and the set fills two discs.
These symphonies ask big questions and tell deep and important stories. Clues are given in their titles, drawn from literary sources; all the pieces own to extra-musical sources, and are all in an important sense meditations on the problem of suffering – and especially on the capacity of human beings to cause suffering, to ameliorate it, or to transcend it. ‘Toward the Shining Light’ is the name of the First Symphony. Written in 1988, its concern is with those who, like the composer’s own son, are severely handicapped: the ‘shining light’ it hopes for is an acceptance of this cruel fate. The Second Symphony, ‘Stars in a Dark Night’, appeared a year later. It conjures up a war zone – both the actual ‘zone’ of the First World War, and a metaphorical place of violent psychic contestation between the rational and the irrational, or the sane and the insane. The Third Symphony, ‘Voices from the Fire’ (1992), pursues this theme on to related terrains – the Holocaust, and the destruction of the Tasmanian aborigines. The Fourth Symphony (1995) stays with the topic of war but offers some hope. Titled ‘Born from Good Angel’s Tears’, its ‘text’ is a fairy story about an angel whose tears at the sight of so much suffering fall to the ground and become children in whose eyes we can see our own goodness. So we have ‘inner’ selves that may be unknown to us – a theme that the Fifth Symphony (1999) takes up under the title ‘Dark Side’ (‘everyone is a moon, and has a dark side that he never shows anyone’, as Mark Twain has it).
These moral explorations come to life in a musical style one might describe as neo-Romantic modernism. Full of dark, broody colours and an elegiac lyricism that typically moves at slow tempos through long-breathed paragraphs, this is music written after disaster, after tragedy, after the worst that the twentieth century had to offer. The orchestral writing conveys a sense of sonic depths and conjures magical effects of various kinds; its sound, pace and incandescent spiritual energy, no less than its pathos, dignity and search for transcendence, at times give me the feeling that I am listening to a modern Bruckner.
Though the music never seeks to ingratiate, by the same token it is never less than immediately accessible at some level. In general, the most effective – and affecting – passages tend to have a disarming simplicity of design; most listeners are likely to be struck, too, by the powerful and virtuosic writing for the brass. The music is translucent: some passages fairly blaze with light.
One misgiving I might have is about the tendency of the symphonies to be overly graphic (Broadstock’s programmes sometimes bind the music too tightly, so that the art of composition seems constrained by the music’s own external source); another is that the ideas have about them a certain sameness. But there is no question that these works are hugely impressive, as much for their craft and beauty as for their deeply serious intent. The booklet notes are ample and instructive. And the performances are astonishing: quite simply, the Krasnoyarsk Academic Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Wheeler is a revelation.
Christopher Ballantine, January 2001 International Record Review (UK)
good angel's tears Etcetera KTC 2026 (Netherlands)
Australian composer Broadstock is a part of the Romantic symphonic tradition in a manner not unlike Havergal Brian or Robert Simpson, to the output of both of which composers his music sometimes bears a passing resemblance. An extramusical theme which runs through all his symphonic works is the contrast and opposition of opposing forces, specifically identified as those of light and dark, good and evil. Symphonic form lends itself to this sort of conflict and contrast, of course, though Broadstock’s symphonies achieve their analogy of symphonic form through the opposition of timbres, dynamics and relative activity, as well as degrees of harmonic tension, rather than the traditional key relationships. Nonetheless, the works are tonal, and function like extended tone-poems. As to the content; the battle between light and dark has been a staple of Western art since time immemorial, and Broadstock continues the tradition with individuality and emotional power, whether his subject is the struggle of the individual against mental illness (the 2nd Symphony refers to the tragic history of English composer Ivor Gurney), or more global concerns. These are powerful pieces indeed, and should appeal to anyone who responds to the 20th-century symphonic traditions which include figures as diverse as Sibelius, Panufnik, Brian or Sallinen. 2 CDs. Krasnoyarsk Academic Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Wheeler conductor
May 2001 Records International Magazine (USA)
Bright Tracks Move Records MD 3204 (Australia)
Those of you who made the Broadstock symphony box-set (05C080) such an unexpected success last May will find more of this outstanding composer's unique voice in the majority of these pieces. Richly lyrical and generally modal, Broadstock composes in arches which attain a climax (the "Golden Mean") roughly two thirds of the way through before returning to the mood of the beginning. One striking earlier piece here is the 1984 Beast from Air, an impassioned protest against French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, which evokes the danger of nuclear fallout through stabbing percussion and grating trombone. The booklet is a work of art in itself and provides a plethora of very interesting information on the composer as well as on the works recorded here. 2 CDs. Various Artists incl. Petra String Quartet, Josephine Tan, Ian Holtham, Linda Kouvaras (piano). December 2001 Records International Magazine (USA)
Bright Tracks Move Records MD 3204 (Australia) Brenton Broadstock is a quiet achiever as this extensive and superbly presented anthology makes clear. His music is at its best when his social conscience reacts to people; his multiply handicapped son, say, or a person living with AIDS. In these cases a tenderness both harmonic and melodic comes to the fore and the listener is left beguiled and touched. A wide variety of local artists give consistently fine performances. Tony Way, The Age Green Guide
Bright Tracks Move Records MD 3204 (Australia) Deeply serious and intensely personal, Broadstock’s music can connect so directly that poignancy approaches pain. Andrew Scott, The Sunday Age
Bright Tracks Move Records MD 3204 (Australia) ....they give a good perspective on Broadstock’s development, especially the more expressive, lyrical elements of it, and reward careful listening. Kim Lockwood, Herald Sun
Essays for Brass (Vol. 3) Polyphonic QPRL 202D (UK) BBs contributions, Born to Battle and the earlier Rhapsody, based on Dykes' tune St Aelred, are key ingredients. Beautifully tailored, their energetic, intricate inner lines are delineated with crystal clarity, their rich, uncompromising harmonies luscious in quality, the music's passion unbridled. Gorgeous solo playing underlines the wealth of this band's individual talents, but it is David King's penetrating observance of the music's meaning that produces performances that Broadstock and his audiences will probably never hear bettered. YBS Band, David King conductor Peter Wilson, The British Bandsman October 2000 (UK)
Giants in the Land Move Records MD3239 The two Broadstock pieces are substantial and serious, harmonically engaging and, like most of the music on the disc, avoiding transcendental virtuosity in favour of musicianly content and argument. Ian Holtham (piano) [Composers: Broadstock, Greenbaum, Selleck, Kouvaras, McCombe, Ingham] September 2003 Records International Magazine (USA)
Giants in the Land Move Records MD3239 The first piece I auditioned with the Aurora 2s (speakers) was the gorgeous Giants in the Land, by Brenton Broadstock, played on piano by Ian Holtham (it was originally commissioned for organ). It works so well for piano that I still can’t imagine it as an organ work, and the limpid, flowing sounds Holtham extracts from the Steinway D flowed from the speakers like water. The sustained pedal notes remain tonally distinct at all times, and the Aurora 2s maintained the sense of acoustic space, even during the ‘giant steps’ moments when Holtham hammers the keys with a vengeance. This work is on a Move CD of the same title (Move MD3239) that I’d recommend to anyone who loves music, but particularly piano music. Holtham’s playing is masterful, the recording exquisite, and all the works are not only wonderfully conceived, but also thought provoking. All the tracks are great. Greg Borrowman Australian Hi-Fi Feb 2005 p36
Cross on the Hill ‘Immortal Themes’ CD SPS 128 (UK) ....a most interesting work from the professional Australian composer Brenton Broadstock. Entitled The Cross On The Hill it is a slow, meditative sound-picture of a cross erected by local people on a Umbrian hillside. One imagines that this piece.....will reward repeated listening. Andrew Justice, trombone, International Staff Band/Stephen Cobb Dudley Bright (UK)
Take All My Sins Away This superb arrangement by Australian composer, Brenton Broadstock. of Catherine Book-Clibborn’s lovely song will provide the perfect reflective moment in any band’s programme. The arrangement is uncomplicated, yet cleverly crafted by this highly respected musician. After an introduction by full band, the melody is shared between horns and baritones and then cornets, with contributions from around the band at varying dynamic levels until the music subsides into a very quiet, peaceful ending. Broadstock’s writing is a first class nature and his skilful use of the instrumentation of the brass band creates a wonderful picture, which is colourful and sonorous, warm and tender. This lovely piece will endear itself to any lover of quality brass music. The parts and full score are well produced and I definitely recommend this piece…
John Maines, The British Bandsman January 25, 2003 (UK)
PERFORMANCE REVIEWS: Sunburnt Land (UK Premiere) YBS Band/David King RNCM Festival of Brass, Manchester, January 29, 2006 ....it was Broadstock's 'Sunburnt Land' that the band concluded its contribution here. The music takes its inspiration from the poem 'My Country' by Dorothea Mackellar (of which the second verse in particular is familiar to Australians) and the beautiful images of the Australian landscape unfold within the music. At times, it's so peaceful, reflective and captivating listening but culminating in a dramatic ending. There were some quite delightful moments within it, and no-doubt those present at its premiere will have been enthralled by its performance. Malcolm Wood, 4barsrest.com, February 6
Stations of the Cross - Via Crucis (Premiere)
Australian Contemporary Chorale conducted by Hildy Essex Directed by Jeannie Marsh April 22, 2006 BMW Edge Theatre, Melbourne
Miss Eagle is searching for words to describe what she experienced last night at BMW Edge at Federation Square. Via Crucis: Stations of the Cross, a choral work by Brenton Broadstock, was presented and performed by Australian Contemporary Chorale.
This was not a static event. Stations used not only voice - but minimal costume, movement, lighting, image, percussion and textile to bring to life and give contemporary meaning to an ancient reflection on events surrounding Jesus as he went to his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Miss Eagle was so impressed, so caught up in the reverie and mystique portrayed, that it was only with great difficulty that her hands came together to join in the applause at the conclusion.
Originally, in ancient days, the Stations were performed in Rome to recall sad events that happened in another place. To bring this to remembrance, Broadstock's friend, Rome-based British artist Justin Bradshaw, produced a scene for each of the fourteen stations which were displayed for viewing as one entered the seating area. These paintings are reprinted in the program.
As one waited for the performance to begin, images were presented above the performance pit to remind us of those who stood up and spoke out to see wrongs righted. The images included Koiki Mabo, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Emmeline Pankhurst, and Mother Teresa.
Two women need to take credit for the overall production. First is Hildy Essex who is the founder of the Australian Contemporary Chorale (previously known as the Melbourne Composition Choir) and its conductor. The Chorale's aim is to become the premier choir performing original Australian composition. The second is Jeannie Marsh. Jeannie's influence took this performance from chorale rendition into dramatic performance. The voices of Sam Qualtrough (tenor soloist) and Jane Hendry (soprano soloist) were a delight and brought richness and colour to the performance.
At the conclusion of the evening, Jon Cleary, the Australian religious broadcaster and commentator, launched the Chorale's CD, Stations.
And back to BMW Edge. From the seating, the audience looks across the Performance Pit, through the majesty of steel and glass, to the Yarra shimmering darkly under the city lights. Miss Eagle knows of only one better venue. It too sits beside water shimmering darkly at night under city lights - but at Bennelong Point. Miss Eagle blogspot
I touched your glistening tears... Macquarie Trio, Macquarie Theatre, June 26 Brenton Broadstock's work 'I touched your glistening tears' accompanies a heart-wrenching poem by the composer, telling of a father's sorrow and anger as he watches the decline of a severely handicapped child. The message is intimate and painful, but the music is disarmingly simple - an arpeggiated accompaniment marking time below a yearning melody, occasionally choked by grace notes. The trio took to the delicate lyricism with a lovely grace, and did not shy away from the awkward appoggiatura, stumbling with the music as if searching for the right way forward. It was unavoidably moving.
Harriet Cunningham, The Sydney Morning Herald June 29, 2005
I touched your glistening tears... Macquarie Trio, Verbrugghen Hall, June 28 The finest and most moving performance was of Australian composer Brenton Broadstock's 'I Touched Your Glistening Tears', written for his disabled son Matthew. Beautifully proportioned, this simple, touching work opened with extended, unadorned string lines balanced against gently rippling repeated piano phrases, which built up to a passionately intense climax before subsiding into a mood of resignation and acceptance. The work was ideally realised in the trio's controlled but fervently expressive performance.
Murray Black, The Australian June 30, 2005
I touched your glistening tears... Macquarie Trio, Verbrugghen Hall, June 28, 2005 this heart-wrenching work, with its grace notes and dialogue between violin and cello over a simple, minimalist piano accompaniment, left the audience spellbound.
Steve Moffatt, The Manly Daily July 1, 2005
Timeless (Premiere) Australia Pro Arte conducted by Ben Northey Melba Hall, University of Melbourne 2002
With Timeless for string orchestra, Broadstock continues his interest in placing an autobiographical reading upon the musical text…the inspirational base for Timeless is, in part, Broadstock’s reflection of his life within the Australian landscape over the past 50 years. As we have come to expect from Broadstock, this is an extremely well-crafted piece. It begins quietly with almost a dream-like introspection hovering over the ensemble. This state periodically returns and is broken up by sections of joyous abandon. By using this emotional pendulum, the composer maintains our interest in the journey of a life. This work should be heard beyond Melba Hall.
Joel Crotty, The Age June 18, 2002
Stars In A Dark Night Melbourne Symphony Orchestra - Metropolis Series Malthouse Theatre June 22, 2002 To conclude, we had a veteran work…..Stars In A Dark Night. The symphony’s consequent dualistic nature makes for paragraphs of immense power as well as intentionally juxtaposed interludes of quiescence… Here the level of performance lifted markedly in the hectic moment, particularly in the bursts of motor-rhythm, marking a confronting depiction of the personality’s darker facets, which the wind and brass entered into with vigour. With this symphony….the language is personal and engrossing. You have no fears that the material has been stretched beyond its limits or that the prime aim is titillation or effect. (The) composer is speaking without screens, heart to heart, but with the ability to call on a formidable technical prowess.
Clive O’Connell, The Age Tuesday June 25, 2002
Federation Flourish Melbourne Symphony Orchestra cond. Markus Stenz
Broadstock's solid fanfare is cut from the same cloth as his The Gates of Day, that massively jubilant celebration for massed bells and brass bands concluding last year's Melbourne Festival. It treads a clear and assimilable path, maintains a confident and jubilant atmosphere, and reminds you inescapably of how much Americans have cornered the market for occasional music, although Broadstock mines that populist lode with more sophistication than you'll hear coming out of Salt Lake City.
Clive O’Connell, The Age February 18, 2002
Gates of Day (Premiere) 100 brass, 500 bell-ringers, military band cond. Graham Lloyd Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne November 3, 2001 Gates of Day is an excellent example of a new score, written in a non-patronising manner, which is firmly planted within the capabilities of community musicians rather than in the intellectual head-space of the contemporary music fraternity. This massive work was performed on the last afternoon of the Melbourne Festival in the newly renovated Myer Music Bowl. The Footscray-Yarraville, Hawthorn, Kew, and Moreland-Brunswick brass bands along with some of the bellringers were stationed on the stage while others with bells in hand gathered up the sides of the arena.
Subtle nuance was disregarded in favour of rhythmic buoyancy and loud, sometimes familiar, tunes. Coupled with this was the Charles Ives-effect of having a military band march playing through the arena while the others were still in full swing. This chaotic parade brought home not only the sense of occasion but also a sense of fun.
When the composer moved on to the stage after the performance, many in the audience were on their feet, and hopefully a myth was dispelled that good composers are dead composers.
And it also demonstrated that with good planning, communities in regional Victoria are able and willing participants (as bellringers in the Broadstock score) in these large-scale events.
Joel Crotty, The Age December 31, 2001
Winds of Change (Premiere) Yorkshire Building Society Band, David King conductor European Brass Band Championships Gala Concert, Symphony Hall, Birmingham
To commission and programme a contemporary work as challenging for players and audiences as BB's Winds of Change was a bold step. That it came off was a tribute to the band, conductor and composer in equal measure. Broadstock has clocked the fact that the surface of the brass band's potential has so far only been scratched. His music, though complex in textures, colours and scoring, was searingly direct and carried an authority which is the hallmark of real composer. This world premiere heralded the arrival of a new voice. He must be heard again - soon.
Peter Wilson, The British Bandsman May 13, 2000
Festive Overture (F.O.)...gave the musicians the opportunity to release their energy right from the start. A sympathetic, rhythmic, powerfully executed occasional piece. Roel van der Leeuw - Trouw (Concertgebouw, Amsterdam) July 1994 (AYO World Tour)
Festive Overture A stuff that will endure: Stephen Johnson on the Australian Youth Orchestra at the Proms Still, the AYO did manage to include something relatively new. The Australian composer Brenton Broadstock's award-winning Festive Overture (1981) opened the evening, and it turned out to be a scintillating showcase for the young AYO players, with testing unaccompanied solos for horn and tuba - cruel, so early in a concert, though the players rose to the challenge. The Festive Overture has all the elements of a really popular concert piece, bar one: the style is brilliant, rhythmically lively and harmonically colourful - all it lacks is a good tune. Stephen Johnson The Independent Monday, 25 July 1994
Festive Overture (1981) ..Displays a virtuosic feeling for the drama of the orchestra. His bounding imagination swept through a number of festive moods, tempered by a gorgeous nocturnal scene of muted strings. The success of this work can be measured by the sustained excitement which it generated. Timothy O'Connor - Townsville Daily Bulletin 29.5.1981
The Mountain (1984) ..Achieved genuine conviction in his fast music John Carmody - National Times 1.6.1984
The Mountain (1984) ..Brilliant orchestral surges and flashes.. a strong sense of purpose and surety. Vincent Plush - Arts Illustrated 22.5.1984
Expedition (1985) ..Broadstock uses all the resources at his command, including a range of percussion effects, to call up the ferocious heat, the cruelly barren landscape, storms, pests, hunger and death. This is an imaginative and evocative piece. Harvey Mitchell - The Australian 16.4.1986 Eheu Fugaces (1982) ..carefully organised, with an attractive and notably broad spectrum of colour. Kenneth Hince - The Age 23.7.1986
Eheu Fugaces (1982) There was a great deal more genuinely creative inspiration behind B.B's Eheu Fugaces, a setting of three short texts. Broadstock makes effective and eloquent use of his forces - wailing woodwind, ominous percussion and agitated strings. Harvey Mitchell - The Australian 20.1.1986
Eheu Fugaces (1982) Broadstock's Eheu Fugaces is the most successful, as this piece wins or loses on the performer's ability to pull off improvised climaxes, which they do here to shattering effect. Lyle Chan — CD review in Soundscapes June-July 1996 p.78
Beast From Air (1985) ..Chilling percussive effects..a well developed argument - in an age of composition that is often inhuman and inhumane, one has to welcome the occasional piece that is, in the now old fashioned sense, "committed". Harvey Mitchell - The Australian 16.4.1986
Aureole 3 (1984) ..it emerged as a strong, believable and enriching piece of admirable construction and typically well-explored instrumental interest. Michael Brimer - The Australian
Aureole 3 (1984) This haunting music creates its impact with a continuous radiance of varying sound patterns Milton Stephens - The Sun-Herald 1.10.1989
Aureole 4 (1984) ..the echoes of past keyboard composers did not swamp the piece's vital integrity. Clive O'Connell - The Age 23.7.1986
And No Birds Sing (1986/87) ..offered a grim vision of the future through its jagged phrases of protest against the use of chemicals that threaten the balance of nature. But while we have music like this being made and groups like this to play it, I'd like to think there is some hope. Jill Sykes - Sun Herald 12.7.1987
In The Silence Of Night (1989) ..rivalled Sculthorpe at his most elusive and impressionistic. Its emotional content mirrors accurately what little I have gleaned over the years of Sculthorpe's gentle, urbane personality Clive O'Connell - The Age 1.8.1988
Battlements (1986) ..a complex work...with some exciting brass elements and unusual metallic percussion, as well as vivid string participation. Jeremy Vincent - The Herald 15.2.1988
Battlements (1986) ..very successfully evokes the landscape of rugged grandeur. Michael Brimer - The Australian 15.2.1988
Battlements (1986) ..is an interesting score, dense and complex in the texture of its sound, with a constant movement of orchestral colour that is lively and attractive...recalling the motionless world of floating clouds and Haiku. Kenneth Hince - The Age 16.2.1988
Toward The Shining Light - Symphony #1 (1988) ..movingly direct..functions with wrenching effectiveness. Its vocabulary is uncomplex and uninhibitedly charged with passionate feeling. Clive O'Connell - The Age 23.5.1988
Toward The Shining Light - Symphony #1 (1988) ..excellent and approachable piece...written with assurance, honesty and love. With works such as this around, the future of Australian composition looks bright. Michael Brimer - The Australian 23.5.1988
Toward The Shining Light - Symphony #1 (1988) It is unashamedly driven by extra-musical considerations and it explicitly returns to the Mahlerian ethic of transcendence....the bright optimism of the piece, allied to a very approachable musical language, makes for a work that could well establish a place in the repertoire. Laurie Strahan - The Australian 13.10.1989
Toward The Shining Light - Symphony #1 (1988) ..a composer of high ideals and noble musical instincts...his predominant mode of expression in this work is epic and positive. Broadstock belongs, it seems, among that interesting younger group of Australian composers who do not mind being straightforward but manage to avoid sounding musty. He has a generosity and scale of utterance which might make it possible for him - to occupy a position in our music comparable to that of Roy Harris in the music of the United States. Roger Covell - Sydney Morning Herald 13.10.1989
Stars In A Dark Night - Symphony #2 (1989) It is a simply organised work in one lengthy movement, comprising paragraphs of fierce aggression and meandering calm, all based on rhythms or intervals that are instantly comprehensible yet treated with outstanding subtlety.....in the gentle 'lucid passages, Broadstock displays a touching sensitivity...the melodies have an emotional integrity that one finds rarely in works for large orchestra. This new symphony is a welcome, and to my mind successful, addition to the understocked repertoire of works for substantial forces by Australian composers..... its sincerity and command of orchestral colour are unmistakable. Clive O'Connell - The Age 13.11.1989
Stars In A Dark Night - Symphony #2 (1989) ..an extraordinary piece...It shares with the (Beethoven's) Ninth the theme of the struggle for hope and joy in an otherwise strife-torn world; but in an extraordinary conclusion, anger triumphs over sanity in three enormous chords.... Barbara Hebden - Brisbane Courier Mail 31.9. 91
Deserts Bloom...Lakes Die (1990) Alan Cumberland conducted a compelling performance of this work which, after a beautifully sustained opening, unfolded in relentless cross-rhythms. John Fardon's rich double bass added to the explosion of tonal color before the sound died in savage, austere harmonies. Barbara Hebden - Brisbane Courier-Mail 17.1.1990
Deserts Bloom...Lakes Die (1990) ...was like a rock dropped into the the tranquil, secure waters of classical form - a fertile metaphor for a work stemming from Gil Stern's maxim...Broadstock is making a musical statement about the environment. His imagery not only suggests but seems to represent the sounds of nature, a life system growing, gradually expanding, simple to complex, through crisis, back to a lonely landscape that works through more conflicting elements. Patricia Kelly - The Australian 13.11.1990
In Chains (1990) ...is a cleverly crafted duo which exercises both musicians who undertake a performance: plenty of ornamental filigree for the flautist and masses of complex chords for the guitar. Clive O'Connell - The Age 23.10.1990
Giants In The Land (1991) ..the concert's main interest came with...'Giants In The Land'... An extraordinarily touching work displaying an unexpected depth of elegaic affection, this work operated on a level several removes higher than most of the other contents of the program... Clive O'Connell - The Age 9.4.1991
Voices From The Fire - Symphony #3 (1991) ,,,the choice of Broadstock is to be applauded. Here is a composer who is not afraid to make grand gestures and who has the vocabulary and musical intellect to back them up. Voices From The Fire is...a strongly emotive piece, punctuated with great orchestral outbursts of pain; yet Broadstock can never resist the lure of beautiful sounds and this score, like his previous two symphonies, is full of magical harmonies and sonorities. Laurie Strachan - The Australian 6.7.1992
Voices From The Fire - Symphony #3 (1991) ...this 25 minute work of two movements...was inspired by the horrors of racial genocide, and from the first bar leaves no doubt about its emotional intensity, with orchestral shrieks, wails, screams and shudders. The scoring is texturally opulent yet remarkably lucid....The work deserves to become well-known. Fred Blanks - Sydney Morning Herald 9.7.1992
Voices From The Fire - Symphony #3 (1991) ...the real highlight of the night had come with Broadstock’s symphony, yet another example of the composer’s relentless seriousness of purpose....Broadstock has constructed a two-movement work that maintains its force and energy without deviation or relief. It is strident and elegaic in turn; as with the composer’s two earlier symphonies, there is an unmistakeable communication of anguish. As far as the Australian content of the three concerts went, this was the most cogent and affecting work played. Clive O’Connell - The Age 6.7.1992
Voices From The Fire - Symphony #3 (1991) ...blazing performance of B.B’s new symphony...This is a confident two-movement work...it should go into the SSO repertoire... John Carmody - Sun-Herald 9.7.1992
Voices From The Fire - Symphony #3 (1991) (BB) felt compelled to write his composition as a result of two indelible visual impressions: an archival film about the 'execution of dozens of naked Jews', and a photograph of the mournful eyes of the last aboriginal Tasmanian. The result in Voices From The Fire is an acoustic memorial more powerful than a thousand bronze plaques. Against a background of evocative simplicity, lashing orchestral outbursts and quiet vocalised sounds, Broadstock generates an almost unearthly atmosphere which makes a strong impression. An example is when coarse thundering passages are reflected in delicately flickering strings, or widely stretched clusters slowly glide down. Over the first movement Broadstock wrote "with angst", and this fear is palpable. Helmut Mauro - Suddeutsche Zeitung 10.7.1994
Voices From The Fire - Symphony #3 (1991) His memorial in sound for the victims of the Holocaust and for the Aborigines wiped out by the Europeans was not accomplished by hushed calm, but screams to the world about the injustices by means of erupting bursts of sound. Rudiger Schwartz - Abendzeitung Munchen 18.7.1994
Fahrenheit 451 - Chamber Opera (1992) ...very effective new work...this was a most convincing piece of music-theatre with ingenious music and direction... Maria Prerauer - Weekend Australian 24.10.1992