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CITY NEWS March 2022 "The musical treat that just got better"

The performance of Philip Glass’s celebrated song cycle Songs from Liquid Days is always a rare treat, and to have it delivered by one of contemporary Australian vocal music’s greatest voices is an even more notable treat... Australian chamber vocal ensemble, The Song Company, brought Glass’s work to the intimate Wesley Music Centre, led by tenor Dan Walker alongside Antony and Raphael Pitts. Across a cascading series of motivic developments set to lyrics by several of the ’80s most prolific songwriters, Walker and The Song Company brought the song cycle to life in a vivid and dynamic performance. The clarity of Walker’s voice allowed the lyrics to surge to the forefront of the music, guiding the audience through the dizzying narratives.

At the start of the concert, Walker explained that he had hoped to find his own voice in approaching the songs; in this, he certainly succeeded. On the song cycle’s opener, 'Changing Opinion' Walker’s sharp diction animated the intense mystery of Paul Simon’s cryptic lyrics. In the following song, 'Lightning', set to words by Suzanne Vega, Walker’s voice took on a bitingly violent quality, propelling the chilling narrative forward. Throughout the whole performance, a sense of haunting urgency prevailed. Even in the song cycle’s more elegant and delicate moments, most notably in 'Freezing' (lyrics by Suzanne Vega), an undercurrent of vicious energy brought emotional depth and complexity to the delivery.

The concert was bookended by an additional set of songs written by the lyrical contributors to the song cycle, a unique contribution to the work by The Song Company... Throughout the song cycle, Walker and the Pittses weaved a dynamic and layered narrative. The storytelling abilities on display by the performers gave Glass’s work a modern, personal, and complex interpretation. (Joshua Daffern)

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CLASSIKON March 2022 "Hats off to The Song Company for Liquid Days"

The core work of this program is Songs from Liquid Days, a cycle of six songs that Philip Glass wrote in 1986... based on lyrics commissioned from some of the excellent songwriters of the time: Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega, David Byrne, and Laurie Anderson... it is rarely heard these days. So hats off to The Song Company for thinking of performing this work... sung here by Dan Walker who also plays synthesizer. Antony Pitts played piano and sang occasional backing vocals with Raphael Pitts... Vocally it is very demanding to be always singing around the top of the stave, but Walker’s light voice was well produced and impressively seemed to handle this without signs of tiring. Pitts’s piano playing was impressive too. From a stamina point of view the piano part is pretty unrelenting throughout.

Like the lieder of Schumann, in this cycle the voice is mostly the vehicle for the poetry, and the bulk of the musically interesting activity occurs in the piano part. The compelling rhythmic momentum comes ever from the piano. Also, many of the poems, like those of the Romantics, concern themselves with nature, and it is again in the piano part where we hear the snow flakes swirling, a humming noise coming from an unknown source, thunder and lightning, water, bells (on the synth) and rain...

There was a dreamy quality about this concert, a compassion and warmth which come equally from the lyrics, the composition and sympathetic performance. 'These are the days of miracles and wonder' to quote Paul Simon. Many thanks to The Song Company for bringing this to us." (Daniel Kaan)

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