The Australian composer Paul Stanhope is the focus of a new recording from the Australian String Quartet. Composed between 2008 and 2015, Stanhope’s three quartets are an important part of the string quartet repertoire in Australia today.

The first is titled Elegies and Dances, but the heart of the piece is a lullaby. The second string quartet was written for the Pavel Haas Quartet and its four movements interpret aspects of the life of Haas, a Czech composer who was murdered at Auschwitz. The third quartet, subtitled From the Kimberley, has been inspired by Stanhope’s engagement with the First Nations people of North Western Australia.

There is a programmatic element to the work, detailing the campaign by the Aboriginal warrior, Jandamarra, to protect his people in the face of colonisation. The second movement contains an Aboriginal melody that has been passed to Stanhope for this work. The last part is an homage to the many rivers of the Kimberley and the life the water brings to the land. The recording is brilliant and the playing of the Australian String Quartet engaging. A highly recommended recording from an important voice in Australian music.

– James Nightingale