Peter Sculthorpe — String Quartet №12 "From Ubirr" with two didjeridus (1994)
From Ubirr, for string quartet and didjeridu (1994) Ubirr is a large rocky outcrop in Kakadu National Park, in northern Australia. It houses some of the best and most varied Aboriginal rock painting in the country. Many of the paintings have been proven to be the earliest-known graphic expressions of the human race. They clearly demonstrate a caring relationship with the environment, and the Aboriginal belief that the land owns the people, not the people the land. The music of From Ubirr is derived from my orchestral work Earth Cry (1986). Like its progenitor, it asks us to attune ourselves to the planet, to listen to the cry of the earth as the Aborigines have done for many thousand years. The work is a straightforward and melodious one. Its four parts are made up of quick, ritualistic music framed by a slower music of supplicatory nature, and an extended coda. The slow music is accompanied by a didjeridu pitched to E, and the quick music by a second didjeridu pitched to C. The instrument represents the sound of nature, of the earth itself.
"The arrival of a white didjeridu player, David Coulter, to join the quartet… looked like a Kronos contrivance. To start, it buzzed away on its bass note as the strings rhapsodized — Sculthorpe made his getaway from post-War modernism early enough to be utterly secure in his language now, making many younger escapees sound nervous and contrived by comparison. The lyrical flow, ever changing yet always the same… drew playing of full-hearted passion". The Independent (UK) (Robert Maycock), 25 July 1994
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