Song of Songs (2004)

“The sound was closely packed, intense and gleaming – the sort of up-close, amplified choral sound which seems to get inside your head through your cheek bones and temples rather than your ears.

Andrew Schultz’s Song of Songs, a setting of a modern recrafting by the Melbourne poet Barry Hill of the original biblical text, succeeds in creating something new in the world of choral sound.

Not new in concept to be sure, since close miking, multi-tracking and careful focusing of the balance to add a rich, sometimes acerbic edge to the colour are the everyday tools of many contemporary styles, particularly in the cinema.

Yet the particular 18-voiced mix here – six live voices, slightly to the fore, each with two prerecorded partners, set at a slight acoustic distance – was originally conceived, and its use over an extended five-part cycle for about 45 minutes, was original and absorbing.

Hill has arranged the love songs in the Song of Songs into five movements with a quasi narrative progression through attraction, consummation, loss and rediscovery. Using the image of love near a city wall, he creates a dichotomy between inner desire and fecundity and outer threat and decay, the fire of love and coldness of alienation.

Schultz’s textures vary from the iridescent, closely voiced tonal harmonies of the first song, Enchantment, to antiphonal dialogues between the live voices and their shadows to the words “feed me” in the third movement, Feasting, to florid decoration over static harmonies as though in a static transcendent mind-state and tumbling erotic climaxes.

Though the work had clarity of sound and structure, it relied heavily on the superb professionalism of the Song Company, under Roland Peelman, not only for the stamina of concentration and musicianship required, but also for the deep experience of each player in balancing their vocal sound against a complex vocal web.” visit article

[Peter McCallum, “Songs of Ecstasy, The Song Company,” Sydney Morning Herald, May 10, 2004.]

“Song of Songs by composer Andrew Schultz and writer Barry Hill represents one mythical erotic encounter after another, each outstripping the previous in sensuous luxuriance. Schultz uses the six voices of the Song Company (directed by Roland Peelman) recorded against each other twice to make 18 parts, mixing in resonant piano and percussion strokes to create a soaring, richly woven and effusive sound fabric.”

[Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, 11-12 October 2008]

“Although the textual springboard for the new Andrew Schultz CD released by the Song Company is biblical, there’s nothing conventionally religious about it. Musically too it is decidedly unconventional: despite being a seven-part excursion into Schultz’s compositional world which is almost entirely vocal, it contains almost no comprehensible words.

Rather, Schultz uses his texts as musical building blocks, combining them into highly evocative, not to mention ingratiating, dollops of ensemble sounds from which only the odd word or phrase leaps into the realms of comprehensibility…Drawing for inspiration on the biblical fountainhead itself, … this work uses vivid imagery and mock-dialogue to equip the work with considerable inbuilt drama …

The whole CD is … a delicious hour of wallowing in the voluptuousness of amorous verse impeccably sung. … It deserves a very wide listenership indeed.”

[David Gygar, MCA Music Forum, Vol 15 August-October 2009.]