HD Duo
Da Vinci Classics 7.46160916581

4.5 stars
Reviewed by Paul Cooke

HD Duo is soprano saxophonist Michael Duke and pianist David Howie, who met at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Bird Spirit Dreaming was recorded there and offers a wide range of music with half of the album devoted to music composed just over 20 years ago. Orchestral pieces by Peter Sculthorpe (Rockpool Dreaming) and Ross Edwards (Bird Spirit Dreaming, originally an oboe concerto) are arranged for chamber forces, while works composed for the oboe by Brenton Broadstock and Matthew Hindson are here given to the warmer, less astringent tones of the soprano saxophone. The slow movement, Serenade and Love Duet, of Bird Spirit Dreaming is especially pleasing in this arrangement.

This is not to say that all is sweetness and light. Hindson’s Night Dance, one of his Night Pieces, features
quartertones, and Lyle Chan’s recent and specially-commissioned The Perfumed Calyx (2018), while influenced by Ravel, springs some tonal (atonal?) surprises. A second composition by Broadstock, An Endless Ripple II (2018), reflects upon a quote by Pushkar Saraf, ‘A simple act of caring creates an endless ripple’, while at same time evoking in my mind Henry Kendall’s ‘channels of coolness’. The recital concludes with another commission, the three-movement Cloud Nine (2021) by Matthew Orlovich. Its exuberant and evocative nature makes me wonder why he is not better known.