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Reviews

Colbert’s massive construct begins with short spasms, sustained bands punctuated by abrupt flurries that introduce the composer’s trademark penchant for rhythmic subdivisions…

…a dynamically quiet start but the work is on the move, growing in contrapuntal density as both Harvey’s hands engage in a long-term duel loaded with mirrorings and interchanges while the short bursts and isolated intervals or chords expand into two-part dialogues.

…these conversations between lines are impossible to untangle, particularly in the long central argument of the work where the performer presents a mind-sharpening onslaught of material…

Previous experience with Colbert’s products may prepare you for his complexity of thought.  His music has no compromises…

If you had time and inclination, this music could be analysed and decanted of its mysteries, although the process in this case would distract from the score’s pivotal exuberance. It makes a startling, exhausting opening track on this CD…

Dancing to the Tremors of Time is a stand-out contribution to this country’s piano literature…

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Clive O’Connell – O’Connell the Music, 25 September 2020 Dancing to the Tremors of Time
(piano solo)

Packing just under 30 minutes into a single, frenetic movement that reflects the painting’s nightmarish figures, Colbert’s piece is explosive, exhilarating and exhausting for both performer and listener.

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Lisa MacKinney – Limelight, April 2020 Dancing to the Tremors of Time
(piano solo)

…the dynamic energy of (Michael Kieran) Harvey’s performance…Dancing to the Tremors of Time…is almost 29 minutes of the most virtuosic pianism you will ever hear…textural journey that takes the listener into Colbert’s musico-emotional translation of James Gleeson’s famous painting of the same name….

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James Nightingale – Fine Music Magazine, March 2020 Dancing to the Tremors of Time
(piano solo)

At 28 minutes long, Like a Maelstrom took its title seriously, hammering the audience with a relentless onslaught of sound for almost the entirety of that time. I would confess that at times this wasn’t easy, however this is not necessarily a bad thing: there is room in the canon for difficult music, that challenges and renders the audience uncomfortable. That Like a Maelstrom was able to evoke such a strong response speaks to the power it has as a work.

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Leah Blankendaal – CutCommon, 1 April 2016 ...like a Maelstrom
(double concerto for trumpet, piano & small orchestra)

… an uncompromising voice, both enervating and exciting to hear in an age when contemporary composition is finding it difficult to sustain interest, let alone an audience. In that regard, …like a Maelstrom represents the sort of initiative for which the Arcko organization exists.  Whether or not it offers pleasure is irrelevant; what it does give you without holding anything back is a horizon-expanding experience, one where your ears are challenged to an aesthetic confrontation. At a new music concert, I can’t imagine anything better.

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Clive O’Connell – O’Connell the Music, 20 March 2016 ...like a Maelstrom
(double concerto for trumpet, piano & small orchestra)

…a wild ride… a fixation with the fast and the loud, together with a massive density…Yet the moments where the textures suddenly thin out…or where the effective tempo temporarily slows…are imbued with a dramatic power that is directly related to the mass and energy of the more maniacal passages – and the eye of a great storm does seem a suitable metaphor for this effect. The challenging solo parts are realised with fearless authority and flair by Bruno Siketa (trumpet) and Peter Dumsday (piano).

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Alistair Noble – Music Trust, 1 February 2016 ...like a Maelstrom
(double concerto for trumpet, piano & small orchestra)

a very beautiful piece for strings…Arcko Symphonic Ensemble has championed this work strongly and deservedly… it is a piece that is now somewhat overdue for wider recognition as among the finest string orchestra works by any Australian composer. 

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Alistair Noble – Music Trust, 1 February 2016 ...floating in the void...
(string orchestra)

…a strong, two movement work…bustles through great swathes of notes, out of which many moments of interest flare and dissipate…the obsessive busyness is briefly and magically projected into a larger space… At the end, the energy of the work metamorphoses into lyricism; as the massed-quartet texture unravels, space opens up once again – this time for a beautiful line of slow moving notes on the cello

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Alistair Noble – Music Trust, 1 February 2016 Proxima
(string quartet)

…starts out virtuosically and winds itself up from there in this thrilling performance by Phoebe Green. There is no respite, as the piece races inexorably towards a splendidly abrupt ending – and yet there is more to the work than just virtuosity…

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Alistair Noble – Music Trust, 1 February 2016 Torque
(viola solo)

…hero work of the night was a new work, commissioned by Arcko… Like a Maelstrom. And like a maelstrom it was…Colbert wrought an extraordinarily difficult concerto for trumpet (Bruno Siketa) and piano (Peter Dumsday) swirling amid fierce playing from 15 string players and two percussionists.  ‘Difficult, demanding and uncompromising’ was the order of the day. There were moments when I watched Dumsday sweating over the waves of giant clusters he had to manage on the keyboard and I wondered if Colbert was just getting noisy…but then, out of the almost inchoate sounds, a direction always emerged, leading the piano and trumpet in and out of the body of sound

Nicholas M. Tolhurst – Weering Review, 3 March 2015 ...like a Maelstrom
(double concerto for trumpet, piano & small orchestra)

…Proxima for string quartet…was relentless with a solid sense of conversation between each of the four players while they yet maintained determined, individual lines…Silo Quartet worked hard, delivering a flawless, unified sound over the complex inner lines

Nicholas M. Tolhurst – Weering Review, 3 March 2015 Proxima
(string quartet)

…intense and dedicated musicianship…Phoebe Green gave a remarkably poised performance of Colbert’s Torque for solo viola…the piece was a tour de force of quite contrapuntal measures of virtuosic playing…

Nicholas M. Tolhurst – Weering Review, 3 March 2015 Torque
(viola solo)

…attained a great sense of suspended beauty…Colbert’s floating in the void is intended as a fairly other-worldly experience. In the program notes he invites us to listen with our eyes closed. It’s hard to do that—watching each player take up his or her part and pass the music around the ensemble is too exciting.

Nicholas M. Tolhurst – Weering Review, 27 October 2013 ...floating in the void...
(string orchestra)

Certainly the most challenging music presented, this work invited the audience into a mysterious and abstract sound world. The only piece on the programme to deal meaningfully with space and silence, layers of isolated pizzicato morphed into thematic fragments that explored and mapped out a delicate and complex web of events.

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Mark Viggiani – AMC Resonate Magazine, 12 July 2009 ...floating in the void...
(string orchestra)

…a fond reminder of the extraordinary energy that characterized Melbourne’s compositional scene in the 1980s. This is music that is unforgiving, obsessive, saturated, as well as carefully controlled, precise and ambitious…

Michael Hooper – MCA Music Forum Vol 15, No.3, May-July 2009 Agité III
(piano solo)

…is rich in clashing colours but at the same time the scoring is not densely packed. It is a work that should remain in active repertoire…

Joel Crotty – The Melbourne Age, 15/12/2000 Cogs
(percussion quartet: glock / xyl / vibes / mba)

…intriguingly titled Slap, an engrossing piece in which the [bass] clarinet simulates the harsh and raucous squawks and warbles of some exotic, angry fowl.

Neville Cohn – The West Australian, 9-10/5/2000 Slap
(Bb bass clarinet, percussion)

…the fifth in a series of agitated pieces, was the work that sounded as if it might have the most consistent and forceful personality while suffering most from limited rehearsal time.

Roger Covell – Sydney Morning Herald, 7/9/1999 Agité V
(harp solo)

..Colbert’s response to urban dysfunction…pulsated with the rhythms of alienation.

Patricia Kelly – Brisbane Courier Mail, 20/11/1995 Jericho's Strange
(Orchestra)

…revealed in essence a reflection on more varied sonorous possibilities, an exploration of timbres elaborating the grades of pianissimo in a continuous search for new effects

LA NUOVA (Cagliari), 05/12/1991 Glimeren
(piccolo, guitar, celesta, violin, viola)

…rapid, quicksilver music… The keyboard dominated the initial bars with a series of trills that emphasised the basis on which the piece is constructed…but the hard work fell to (the) guitarist who negotiated a massive, demanding solo…

Clive O’Connell – The Melbourne AGE, 17/7/1990 Altered States
(mandolin, guitar, harpsichord, percussion)

…Its pointillist style and rapid transference of motifs and trills between instruments brought about some scintillating effects. The extended guitar solo was vigourously played…and the work’s jagged textures were underpinned by…sensitive percussion…

Michael Christofordis – Australian Guitar Journal. Vol. 2. No. 2, 1990 Altered States
(mandolin, guitar, harpsichord, percussion)

The combination of mandolin, guitar, percussion and harpsichord perfectly suits this music of rapid, obsessively ornamented figures…

Liza Lim – OSSIA, Spring 1990 Altered States
(mandolin, guitar, harpsichord, percussion)

…fully lived up to its title. Restless,uneasy and gripping from the outset, it was notable for the development of an argument, an instrumental discussion, that repaid concentration.

Clive O’Connell – The Melbourne AGE, 18/2/1987 Murderers of Calm
(mandolin, guitar, violin, viola, double bass, Bb bass clarinet, percussion)