Excerpts from Selected Reviews (1980-1989)
L’Oiseau Fantastique (1984) (back to top)
“The L’Oiseau Fantastique of Andrew Schultz seems to have taken its inspiration from a scene in the film, Diva, but might also be regarded in principle as a distant cousin of the mechanical nightingale of Stravinsky’s La Rossignol…Its recycling of a small number of musical particals becomes a kind of aural nagging in which a momentary passage of legato phrasing intervenes with the effect of sublime invention.”
[Roger Covell, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 1988]
Spherics (1985) (back to top)
“Andrew Schultz is a creative musician of undoubted talents. His Spherics spends much of its time parcelling out small thematic interruptions to a continuum of what might be regarded as interstellar background noise. Tremolando episodes for the cello and taciturn comments from the bass clarinet seem to be linked to shifting phases of this continuum. The constant till-readiness of the texture communicates a feeling of suspense.” [Roger Covell, Sydney Morning Herald, 5/4/1989]
“A sextet titled Spherics, by the Brisbane composer Andrew Schultz who is in his mid-20s. Schultz uses the mosaic technique, assembling musical lines through the juxtaposition of tiny flickering phrases from each of the instruments. But he is shrewd enough to ensure a degree of coherence by maintaining a clear underlying rhythmic pattern.”
''’Terra Australis,’ a local chamber ensemble with links to the Australian musical scene from which some of its members hail, presented six works new to New York at the Asia Society Saturday evening. All six were composed within the past four years, and they suggest that composers Down Under are finding Minimalism and popular music invigorating influences just now. Nothing heard here fit directly into those categories, but peppy, regular rhythms and simple harmonies had a prominence that I don't think one would have found on a similar program 10 years ago…''Snark Hunting'' (Martin Wesley-Smith) and ''Spherics'' (Andrew Schultz) seemed, in different ways, seemed [sic] undisciplined. The performers were Peter Jarvis, Bronwen Jones, Lisa Moore, Tara Hellen O'Connor, Scott Rawls, Rohan Smith, Mark Stewart and Matthias Kriesberg.”
“Andrew Schultz’s 1984 Spherics, in which a rhythmic vocal chant gave way, successively, to a gentle and captivating rolling rhythm, groping gestures and some unisons instrumental chants of s primitive nature, all developing with steadiness and purpose.”
“Schultz’s understanding of rhythmic interplay was delightfully fresh and his affectionate quotations, or near quotations, were also evidence of his willingness to trust impulse and instinct. If Spherics teetered once or twice on the brink of sounding like a recomposition of Ravel’s Bolero, that was a fault on the right side of musical spontaneity.”
Etudes Espace for organ (1986) (back to top)
"Andrew Schultz's Etudes Espace evokes a lonely sense of space."
“Except the pieces by Koehne and Thalben-Ball, the remaining selections are world premiere recordings. Most of the composers comment on their work in the liner notes, which is a great help … Schultz’s Etudes include quiet, haunting works (Etude II) with slow, seemingly endless explorations with long held chords. … Bowman displays a fine command of these thorny scores, and allows listeners the chance to experience the full range of sonorities possible with this instrument.”
“The Etudes Espace I-III (1986) by Andrew Schultz combine modern abstract sounds with the beauty of a harmonic choral like an evensong.”
“Stick Dance by Andrew Schultz, for clarinet, marimba and piano (6' 53") was written in 1987 for Floyd Williams and the Musica Nova Festival. It is a dramatic work which features microtonality and breathy sub-tones for the clarinet. In it there are extreme contrasts of dynamics and instrumental range, as well as ostinati, and static, arhythmic effects reminiscent of Olivier Messiaen. It is a highly effective, avant-garde work.”
"The award of the prestigious Grande Prix Opera Screen 93 Prize to the Australian production, Black River, is not just an accolade for professionalism, but a recognition of a new and mature element in our culture. Black River found its inspiration in an unlikely subject for opera - the 1987 Human Rights Commission inquiry into race relations on the NSW-Queensland border. Its focus was black deaths in custody, and in Paris it scooped the pool of 140 other screen versions of operas from around the world.
Needless to say, the issue of such deaths was a viable topic in Australian terms, yet at first sight perhaps too social a message for opera. Opera is an art form usually wedded to the farcical or the highly melodramatic, with leading roles for more predictable theatrical stereotypes.
But Black River provides a new cultural reference in giving suffering blacks both a tragic and human status. It has a message for the whole of Australian society, yet the Paris award takes matters further by recognising its universal appeal.
The plot is an intimate tale of an Aboriginal woman whose son has died in custody. Seeking shelter from a flood, she finds herself in the very place where he had been imprisoned. The theme might seem common enough but for the fact that the opera straddles three generations of the family, and encompasses the continuous conflict between black and white Australians.
Of course Aborigines have appeared on film in Australia on many occasions, though usually in subsidiary roles: sentimentally, as in Jedda, at other times characterised as unattractive, even vengeful. The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith offered a confused impression of the rights and wrongs meted out to Australian blacks. But this opera presents, unashamedly, a problem that faces all minorities, addressing as it does questions of human dignity and the right to just treatment.
As a medium, opera combines drama and music in a wonderful amalgam. When it becomes a film as well, it reaches an expanded audience and has as magnified an influence.
The response in Paris augurs well for Black River's appearance in Australian cinemas in October. As a vehicle for social and cultural change, it owes its inspiration to writer-director Kevin Lucas, and has an exciting musical score by Andrew Schultz. Both men might accept, however, that its most powerful impulse was a healthy, professional co-operation between Aborigines and non-Aborigines. That would entrench it as a landmark in Australia's cultural development."
Sea Call (1988) (back to top)
“Sea Call, by Andrew Schultz…made a stronger statement, evoking a sense of melancholy meditation, which threatens to engulf the listener.”
Fast Talking: The Last Words of Dutch Schultz (1989) (back to top)
“The stenographically recorded last words of the American gangster Dutch Schultz, as timed, grouped and choreographed in the Fast Talking of the Australian composer Andrew Schultz (no relation). This piece, which some listeners disliked intensely but which seemed to me a compelling and workable example of musical-theatrical grand guignol . . , was part of what has become a festival tradition: a Friday-night sequence of 20th-century music which escapes from the pauses, typecasting and restraints of normal concert giving.” [Roger Covell at the Huntington Festival 1996, SMH]
“a wonderful kaleidoscope climaxed in an extraordinary vocal performance by broadcaster and composer Andrew Ford doing a kind of Sprechgesang, Fast Talking, written by Andrew Schultz, based on the dying ravings of gangster Dutch Schultz.” [Laurie Strachan, The Australian, 12/12/1996]
“The Song Company had taken up position on stage before the hall opened, so that the audience caught them, or at least we were led to assume, midway through the opening work.
Mostly in sotto voce, Damien Ricketson's In God’s Esperanto consisted of a meditative mulling-over of evanescent choral harmonies and a cappella timbres, partly inspired by a failed 19th-century attempt to coin a universal language based on Sol-fa…
If proto-minimal Stockhausen came to mind in the Ricketson ensemble piece, the single-hander Fast Talking was redolent of the garbled 1960s linguistics of Luciano Berio and Sylvano Bussotti. It is based on the stenographically recorded Last Words Of Dutch Schultz, the American gangster, which composer Andrew Schultz (no relation) repackaged for a Huntington Festival performance by fellow composer, broadcaster and well-known fast-talker Andrew Ford. But as realised here by the Song Company director, Roland Peelman, its bedlam ravings seemed to encapsulate best of all the demented babel-babble beauty of his program theme.”
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