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Waves III

by Halcyon

The third of Halcyon’s EP releases, Waves III features two new Halcyon commissions inspired by Greek mythology by Australian composers Raffaele Marcellino and Nigel Butterley.
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Nigel Butterley - Orphei Mysteria I
9:35 $0.99
2. Nigel Butterley - Orphei Mysteria II
5:11 $0.99
3. Nigel Butterley - Orphei Mysteria III
9:37 $0.99
4. Raffaele Marcellino - A Strange Kind of Paradise I
5:49 $0.99
5. Raffaele Marcellino - A Strange Kind of Paradise II
4:37 $0.99
6. Raffaele Marcellino - A Strange Kind of Paradise III
4:35 $0.99
7. Raffaele Marcellino - A Strange Kind of Paradise IV
6:00 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“one of Australia’s most iconic new-music groups”

The third of Halcyon's self-released EPs, Waves III features new works by Australian composers Raffaele Marcellino and Nigel Butterley. Commissioned by Halcyon, both works focus on a figure from Greek mythology and feature texts by contemporary Australian poets. A Strange Kind of Paradise (2010), for four female voices and harp, by Raffaele Marcellino centres on abandoned Ariadne, with poems by Jordie Albiston. Scored for mezzo-soprano, soprano, flute, clarinet, oboe, violin, viola, cello and guitar, Nigel Butterley’s Orphei Mysteria (2008), sets poems by Patricia Excell which explore the Orpheus myth.

Recorded at Trackdown Scoring Stage, Sydney Sept 2013 and July 2014
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Daniel Brown
Produced by Halcyon
Cover photo: Michael Chetham Cover graphic: Elizabeth Duck-Chong


Nigel Butterley Orphei Mysteria (2008) for mezzo-soprano, soprano and ensemble

Even Nigel Butterley's instrumental works are often poetic in inspiration (as for example the orchestral Meditations of Thomas Traherne, or the solo piano piece Uttering Joyous Leaves). Although he has written numerous orchestral and chamber works, the backbone of his output is a series of more than a dozen major vocal cycles, ranging from a capella choral (There Came a Wind Like a Bugle) to vocal-orchestral (The Woven Light) and including some pieces crossing genre boundaries (the radiophonic In the Head the Fire and the fusion of accompanied reading and song cycle in Sometimes with One I Love).
Most of these set texts are assembled by Butterley himself, whether from diverse sources or from the work of a single poet. The present work, however, is somewhat different in that the text is a miniature poetic cycle conceived as a whole - or perhaps a single poem divided into distinct sections. Melbourne writer Patricia Excell has drawn on a life-long love of Greek mythology and religion in this response to the Orpheus myth, a subject which has held particular fascination for composers of at least four centuries.
The text of Orphei Mysteria is not a narrative retelling, but focuses on certain key images - particularly those important to the ancient Orphic cult - out of chronological order. Eurydice and the journey to the underworld are completely omitted. Instead, Excell explores Orpheus' role in the discovery and/or invention of music, as well as his gruesome fate: torn apart by the Maenads, his head (still singing) was left to float out to sea.
Excell's imagery is predominantly that of the natural world, forming a link with other texts Butterley has set or quoted in piece titles, including poems by Emily Dickinson and Kathleen Raine. The connection becomes explicit in the second movement, where Butterley quotes the main theme from the final part of his Raine-inspired orchestral work From Sorrowing Earth.
Although it calls for two voices, Orphei Mysteria is really a song-cycle for mezzo, with the soprano added only at key points: the Prologue and Epilogue (taken from an ancient Orphic grave inscription) and the refrain-like final lines of each section, as well as the resonant image at the exact midpoint of the symmetrical design ("You hold the shell of harmony / Wherein the stars are tuned"). While the musical response to the words is often expressive and lyrical, the introduction of the second voice takes the work out of the realm of the personal and strengthens the sense of ritual implicit in the structuring of the text.
Butterley's vocal line is always a strand within the texture rather than separate from it. The supporting ensemble is a mellow and flexible combination of three woodwinds (with emphasis on low doublings - alto flute, cor anglais, bass clarinet) and string trio, with the addition of a guitar to suggest Orpheus' lyre. The instrumentation closely resembles that of Elliott Carter's Orpheus piece Syringa - but where Carter's guitar is bardic, rhetorical and soloistic, Butterley's is much more diffident and introspective, stepping forward only gently (together with the cello) in the central movement.
© Elliott Gyger

Halcyon: Matthew Wood conductor, Jenny Duck-Chong mezzo-soprano, Alison Morgan soprano, Sally Walker flute/piccolo/alto flute, Peter Smith clarinet/bass clarinet, Alexandre Oguey oboe/cor anglais, Giuseppe Zangari guitar, Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich violin, James Wannan viola, Geoffrey Gartner cello

"In ‘Orphei Mysteria‘ (2008) Butterley again shows why he is so admired by his composer colleagues. His sumptuous sounds, and always at the service of the music and the text, and the way he colours each phrase at times mesmerise the listener. In ‘The Lemon Tree‘ so often I felt as if I was in a labyrinthine dream, lost but content, in a place I have always known but still marvelling at the freshness of the sounds and the direction of the art." (Classikon)

Raffaele Marcellino A Strange Kind of Paradise (2013) for four female voices and harp

A Strange Kind of Paradise is about abandonment - the contemplation of solitude and longing. The strange paradise is created in solitude when one is freed from the demands and emotion of family, relationships and society. The title is the converse of Sartre’s ‘L'enfer, c'est les autres’ (Hell is other people).
This work is inspired by the Monteverdi lamentation aria ‘Lasciatemi morire’. The lament is the only part of the Monteverdi opera, Arianna, that has survived to the present day. The myth of Ariadne speaks of her love of Theseus, who she helped slay the Minotaur, Ariadne’s half-brother, and escape the labyrinth. This assistance of Theseus was a betrayal of her family and homeland and she set sail with him believing she would have a future together. Theseus abandoned her on the island of Naxos. This myth is a central myth in classical Greek mythology and correspondingly has provided our modern culture with a rich range of symbols and narratives.
The lyrics for movements I-III are a set of poems, Ariadne's Lament by Jordie Albiston, celebrated Melbourne-based poet. Movement IV uses a French translation of the lyrics from Monteverdi's original and is structured to include artefacts of Monteverdi musical fragments spun out along a structural thread.
© Raffaele Marcellino

Halcyon: Alison Morgan soprano Belinda Montgomery soprano Jenny Duck-Chong mezzo soprano Jo Burton mezzo soprano Genevieve Lang harp

"The range of texts in this delicate and deeply descriptive work was effectively shared between the vocal parts, at times in mid sentence or fragment. From this first hearing, repetitions and ornamentation timelessly emphasized the despair of this work’s subject, the mythological Ariadne." (Artshub)



A child of Earth am I
A child of Earth and of the Starry Heaven
A child of Earth, but my race is of Heaven

The Head of Orpheus
When to the lily unborn
You offer a lily unknown
The goddess bows her head.

Her hand on the nape of your neck
Quivers with arrows of bitter
Light, each point tipped

With barbarous foam. You hold
The shell-encrusted ear
In which all sound is born.

Waves of inexorable onyx
Darken the courts of silence
Where the naked lily

Rests on the monochord.
The clear night gives back
A single resonating note.

The head of Orpheus floats on the wave.

The Lemon Tree
Haunted by lemons, the poet
Imaged forth the tree
Freighted with glossy fruit -

There, among the leaves,
He climbed the ladder of Being
(But firmly held from below)

Each rung, high and higher -

Sum Es Est

The Lyre of Orpheus
Ripe stars fall
From the arms of the moon
Outstretched in the silent light.

The deep-browed goddess
Embraces the lily’s secret
Words rippling under

Green lucent waves.
You hold the shell of harmony
Wherein the stars are tuned.

The lily unfolds to the night.
A hand dipped in dream
Sweeps the glowing strings -

Each note glides
To its appointed place
Above the fractured earth.

The lyre of Orpheus floats on the wave.

The Lemon Tree
Above his head lemons

Were dancing in Orphic harmony.
Higher still, the meeting point
Where tree and sky are still.

The poet reaches for, plucks
The glowing fruit; each one drops,
A flash, into the golden Kálathos.

Ser Estar Esse

The Song of Orpheus
Darkness deeper than dark
Dismembers night - waves
Of bitter radiance break

At the feet of the goddess where
She stands, oblivious to all
But the lily’s luminous song.

The chord recedes - archaic
Hands pluck from the sea
The seven-stringed shell

Of beaten sound, dripping
With stars. Pallid lips
Rehearse the lily’s monotone.

Through the bronze portal
Of diminished night the goddess
Steps into darkness.

The song of Orpheus floats on the wave.

A child of Earth am I
A child of Earth and of the Starry Heaven
A child of Earth, but my race is of Heaven alone.

(Poetry by Patricia Excell)


Ariadne's Lament
you were my love when you laid me on the sand my
blanket your body my pillow your tender hand ten
thousand kisses you whispered over my classical cretan
flesh ten thousand caresses before you rose and left

(and I awoke to your wake)

you were my love when I cleft from country and clan
my parents bereft my half-brother hewn by your hand
in the middle of the night in the middle of a dream you
left me to my fate sleeping on dia's shore to ever wait

(and I awoke to your wake)

you were my love when your ship curtailed you away
my sun-titan shattered pray tell me what happened!
pray send me breezes to sail me out from this broken
shoreline now! pray call out Ariadne! from your bow

(and I awoke to your wake)

Ariadne's Lament II

sand in my ears sand in my eyes
sand in my helios heart I cannot
hear if you're calling to me I am
too far apart o theseus my love

my man whose husband are you
now which ocean do you tremble
above what future waves before
your vanishing prow sand in my

hair sand in my soul sand in
my hellenic head you've wound
and wound yourself into me but
now I've lost the thread sand in

my sun sand in my night sand
in my indian crown I toss it sky-
wards into the stars and one by one
the stars come tumbling back down

Ariadne's Lament III
throw me among the bright constellations
tow me out to sea I have nought but loss
to station me here no nothing! is left of

me o! bring me generals and battleships
o! hand me bludgeon and blade and lay
my lover low in this lap of vengeance that

he made yes! enter me into the labyrinth
grant me my funeral then o! forgive me
gods but I'm done with mere mortal men
(Poetry for I-III by Jordie Albiston)

Ariadne's Lament IV
Laissez-moi mourir!
Et que voulez-vous
Qui me conforte
Dans un sort si dur,
Dans un martyre si grand,
Laissez-moi mourir!
(Original Italian by Ottavio Rinuccini , translated into French)

Raffaele Marcellino (b 1964) is a composer whose music has been performed by many of the leading Australian and international ensembles ranging from OzOpera, The Song Company, Ensemble Modern, Nouvel Ensemble Modern, The Seymour Group, Synergy, Sydney Alpha Ensemble, Continuum Sax Quartet, Halcyon and most Australian Symphony Orchestras. A significant part of his output has involved collaborations with living poets and lyricists as well as settings of canonic texts in English, Italian, Spanish French, German, Latin and Calabrian. Where text was not used, his music has drawn inspiration from literature and its forms.

Nigel Butterley (b.1935) has been recognised as one of Australia's leading composers since the 1960s, writing in a style which tempers modernist exploration with a distinctive understated lyricism. His oeuvre includes four string quartets, the radiophonic work In the Head the Fire (winner of the 1966 Italia Prize), major orchestral works such as Meditations of Thomas Traherne (1968) and From Sorrowing Earth (1991), and the opera Lawrence Hargrave Flying Alone (1988). The core of his output, however, resides in vocal settings of poetry, including the ambitious Whitman cycle Sometimes With One I Love (1976); There Came a Wind Like a Bugle (1987) and Paradise Unseen (2001), both for the Song Company; and the choral-orchestral Spell of Creation (2000), the culmination of a long fascination with the poetry of Kathleen Raine.

Regarded as a leading exponent in the field of new music, Halcyon presents stunning performances of vocal chamber music from around the world, with a special emphasis on Australian composition. A chameleonic ensemble of varying size and instrumentation, the line up is drawn together for each project by artistic director, mezzo soprano Jenny Duck-Chong.
Originally formed by singers Alison Morgan and Jenny Duck-Chong, since 1998 Halcyon has showcased many rarely heard international works and premiered new and recent offerings from some of Australia’s most esteemed composers and been active in championing and commissioning new contemporary vocal chamber music, and forging lasting connections across the globe with composers, music centres and institutions.



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