Reviews & Testimonials
On the music of Douglas Weiland
"What an amazing music! It gets to the guts before you understand what happens, and then when you do it just gets stronger. I have very rarely heard contemporary music that is so genuinely personal and original, expressive and so convincingly romantic, without a milligram of trying to please or help the listener. For me there is something Bartokian here, in the purity, force and the captivating effect."
Pianist, Head of the Centre for Creative Performance and Classical Improvisation at the London Guildhall School of Music and Professor at the Yehudi Menuhin School
First Quartet Op. 5 (1986/7)
Written Adelaide 1986 (commissioned by ASQ through the Australia Council)
"A brilliant work, written by (a composer) who knows his quartet medium backwards."
"In the third movement, Arkaroola, Weiland proves that willing adoption, even if less than two years’ standing, is every bit as solid a ground as birth for accurate assessment of the physical characteristics of a country."
Prof Michael Brimer
The Australian, 23nd Nov, '87
Pianist, critic and teacher Michael Brimer was Ormond Professor of Music – University of Melbourne (1980 – 88)
(Douglas Weiland lived in Australia from 1985 – 1990)
"Weiland’s First Quartet stood proudly alongside the music of Mozart and Dvorak."
The Herald, Melbourne
Voice Quintet Op. 4 (1984/5)
Australian Quartet Debut Recital at the 1986 Adelaide International Festival
"Intellectually rigorous – an excellent piece of music.
The work was a huge success."
Musical America, New Jersey
Fourth Quartet Op. 50 (2011)
World Premiere: 5th November 2012
Australian National Academy of Music
William Hennessy, Francesca Hiew, Fiona Sargeant, Michael Dahlenburg
Nomination for the 2014 Grawemeyer Award:
Dear Grawemeyer Music Award Committee
I am nominating Fourth Quartet Op. 50 by Douglas Gordon Weiland for the Grawemeyer Award 2014 in my capacity as Director and General Editor of Fountayne Editions, London and as the publisher of this work. I feel very privileged to be its publisher: it is of a quality and importance of which any publisher would be proud.
I have followed the music of Douglas Weiland for many years and can confidently predict it will find its place when the history of late 20th century and 21st century music is written. This work is one of a number of masterpieces written in the last ten years, culminating in the Clarinet Concerto and the Fourth and Fifth Quartets.
Douglas Weiland is one of those composers who never write the same or similar pieces over and over again: each of his creations is utterly unique. This can be quite disconcerting at times as one’s expectations are frequently confounded. This happened to the Altenberg Trio of Vienna, who had played Weiland’s First Piano Trio many times and loved it so much they commissioned the Second Piano Trio. When it arrived they were very nonplussed because it was completely different from what they had expected. They grew to love it just as much!
Weiland’s music does not shirk any of the challenges facing a composer at this point in music history. It neither retreats into simplistic minimalism nor into complex obscurity but meets head on the challenge of writing deeply emotional but rigorously discursive music. The Fourth Quartet Op. 50 is a large-scale structure of great power and beauty. It lights the way into the future – a future where Beethoven, Bartok, Boulez, Carter and others have been fully digested.
His harmonic language is also trail-blazing. With Weiland the perceived polarities of tonal/atonal music are synthesized in quite a new way. For Weiland there is no discredit in tonality, and tonal elements rub shoulders with, at times, a quite acerbic atonality, which deepens the emotional power of the music. This offers the serious prospect of building a new tradition where atonality and tonality live in a different but natural balance and where the composer’s imagination is free once again to embrace centuries (past and future) in addition to their particular moment in time.
I have not dealt with the specifics of this work as it speaks for itself with such clarity that any analysis is redundant for the discerning listener.
London, 8 January 2013
Director and General Editor: Fountayne Editions Music Publisher, London
Clarinet Concerto Op. 30 (2002)
World Premiere: 19th November 2009
Melbourne Recital Centre – Australia
Melbourne Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: Neville Marriner
Soloist: Andrew Marriner
"When, early this century, we commissioned Douglas Weiland to write a concerto for the clarinet, I was already familiar with his work. The fact that it turned out to be a masterpiece for the instrument was an unsurprising joy and we knew that Douglas had added a significant major opus to the clarinet repertoire.""
Sir Neville Marriner CBE
Life President: Academy of St Martin in the Fields
London, 7th January 2010
"How privileged I was to give the first performance of Douglas Weiland’s concerto; it is written in a musical language that is immediately intelligible and appealing; yet it is a unique compositional style that sings through his work, an extraordinary insight into the vocal potential of the clarinet. Audacious in scale, it is an emotionally fulfilling work to play. This piece deserves wide recognition as a serious addition to the small number of major works written for the clarinet."
Soloist, Principal Clarinet: London Symphony Orchestra
London, January 2010
"The Weiland Clarinet Concerto is a major work of classical daring. The composer makes full commitment to the ear, the heart, the intellect, the imagination, and the highest musical ideals.
Douglas Weiland has created a twenty-first century masterpiece, a magnificent successor to the clarinet concertos of Mozart and Nielsen"
Soloist, Artistic Director: Melbourne Chamber Orchestra
Founder Leader: Australian Quartet (ASQ)
Melbourne, January 2010
"Upon hearing the Weiland Clarinet Concerto for the first time I was left with a strong sense of being in the presence of something remarkable, and with subsequent hearings was able to marvel more and more at the subtlety and inventiveness of his craft, especially through the originality and treatment of the thematic ideas and his artful use of texture and rhythm. The work clearly and unashamedly bases itself on tried and tested ideals from previous periods, especially in relation to form and structure, and yet retains a distinctive contemporary voice."
Prof Paul Wright
Winthrop Professor and Director of Strings
University of Western Australia
Perth, February 2010
"This is just a masterpiece. It has all the vigour, vitality, warmth and depth that one has become used to encounter in the greatest creations of our ‘classics’"
Soloist, Pianist, Founder: Altenberg Trio Wien
Artistic Director: International Brahms Festival Muerzzuschlag Austria
Vienna, February 2010
"This Concerto is idiomatically conceived and superbly executed. It manages to acknowledge its heritage in the great traditions of English music and to display an energy and originality that are fresh and communicative. It is an important and valuable contribution to the literature for Clarinet and, with the inspired advocacy of Mr Marriner, is destined to find its place in the repertoire in years to come."
(Boosey) Composer & Conductor
"If I were asked to identify a piece of music that seems to encompass the very nature of God, I would put two samples at the top of the list. The first would be the ‘Wahrlich, dieser ist Gottes Sohn gewesen’ from the Matthäus-Passion. The second would be a passage from Douglas Weiland’s Clarinet Concerto."
Dr Calvin Bowman
(Yale) Composer & Organist
"For someone brought up to appreciate the English music of Elgar and Vaughan-Williams, as I was, it is a relief as well as a delight to hear a composer carrying forward that great tradition, while adding to it an intensely personal and original voice which is all his own. Underlying every bar he writes is a natural feeling for beauty of sound and an expressive warmth. In addition to the technical skill with which he writes for the solo clarinet, there is his gift for orchestration, which gives all the accompanying instruments an opportunity to make their own meaningful contributions.
There can surely be no doubt that in writing this beautiful Concerto, Douglas Weiland has given Clarinet soloists a major addition to their repertoire, demanding to prepare, but a joy to perform."
Neil Black OBE
International Soloist, Principal Oboe: English Chamber Orchestra, Academy of St Martin-in-the-fields, London Philharmonic Orchestra
"I was immediately struck by the breadth of conception of the work. It is so well crafted and shows great understanding of all instruments through its orchestration. The solo part is full of imagination and poetry and shows the clarinet in all its many facets from the vocal legato qualities to the virtuosic capabilities of the instrument. I think that this is a work that will find a permanent place in the repertoire of top soloists."
Soloist, Principal Oboe: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; Artistic Director (Music) Monash University
"Grand and virtuosic, intimate and introspective, this is a concerto full of beauty and strength. Its style is unique, with an individual sense of integrity. The orchestration is lavish and colourful against the solo virtuosic clarinet line that takes the listener on a journey of great imagination and depth. It is a wonderful addition to the solo clarinet repertoire."
Soloist, Principal Flute: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
"The depth of emotion that initiated this work and the intense force of these emotions from composer, to performer, to audience created a sound-scape of vast dimensions. Weiland’s compositional command of the language of music in the 21st century is unparalleled."
Concertmaster, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra
"The Clarinet Concerto of Douglas Weiland should be embraced, performed and championed by all clarinettists throughout the world. The work is a serious and substantial statement and beautifully crafted. After the boost in the 90’s clarinettists got from John Adams, James MacMillan, Brett Dean, Elliot Carter, Rolf Wallin and David Stock, (he) ensured that the 21st Century has commenced with another 'keeper' "
Artistic Director of the Australian National Academy of Music
Third Quartet Op. 39 (2005)
World Premiere: 20th March 2007
Australian National Academy of Music
Cameron Hill, Rebecca Chan, Stefanie Farrands, Michael Dahlenburg
The Third Quartet of Douglas Weiland invokes neither a popular nor an unpopular cause; neither does it lament a great human tragedy; nor indeed does it reference any particular social trend, phenomenon, absurdity, irritation, triumph or disappointment.
It is simply old-fashioned great music. Not old-fashioned in the sense that it in any way lacks contemporary relevance, but in the sense that the music itself is the message.
Douglas Weiland’s Third Quartet is purely musical. That it is “written at the time of the death of my father” is a personal statement of fact, not one of explanation or opportunism. It is not necessary to know this fact to gain a complete insight into this music, much as one will inevitably contemplate the humanity of such a moment.
The Third Quartet bears many of the unmistakeable fingerprints of the numerous major works of Weiland. Historically, and typically for Weiland the music sits at the end of unended lines which include Elgar, Bartok, Tippett, Prokofiev, Bach and Beethoven. In some ways Weiland’s musical language might even be seen as akin to a kind of English Penderecki, but such a comment is only made to gently assist the uninitiated in establishing approximate musical and historical bearings. Certainly Weiland’s commitment to the classical ideals of form and rhetoric are not at odds with Penderecki’s, and Weiland’s musical language is as uncompromising and particular as that of his Polish counterpart.
In reality Weiland is the next big English musical news after Elgar, Walton, Britten and Tippett. It will still be quite some time for this to be generally perceived because his music, particularly his chamber music, is mostly very difficult (though not unreasonably so) requiring many rehearsals, and because Weiland has no commitment to the aesthetics, sensationalism and political correctness of rock music.
As is normal for this composer the Third Quartet displays Weiland’s mastery of invention, form, counterpoint, harmony, clarity, balance, texture, rhetoric and atmosphere. As with all major classicists Weiland’s music is refined, specific, easily damaged, demanding of the listener’s full attention and the product of a seemingly unlimited imagination. Weiland holds the sensitivity and acuteness of the human ear in high esteem and his capacity for, and commitment to both high drama and subtlety is prolific.
Because of its many distinguished and timeless qualities it is inevitable that performances of Douglas Weiland’s Third Quartet will eventually become as ubiquitous as any of the other great post World War II string quartets.
Melbourne, January 2011
First Nomination for the 2012 Grawemeyer Award:
With the greatest pleasure, and humility, I nominate Douglas Weiland for the Grawemeyer Award.
I was privileged to attend the première performance of Weiland’s Third Quartet in March 2007. Further penetrating investigations into the music and a meeting with the composer himself in 2009 have only served to strengthen my admiration for him and his work.
In an age where words such as ‘remarkable’, ‘revelatory’ and ‘work of genius’ are bandied about with little or no thought, Weiland’s Third Quartet may be fairly appropriated to stand proudly amongst such sentiments. The influence of composers such as Bartok, Tippett and Prokofieff is subtle; the true genius of the work lies in Weiland’s thorough absorption of the styles of these masters in order to reveal an outstanding individual voice. The logical sequence of musical ideas is beyond reproach, the counterpoint masterly, and the conversational aspect which is so much a part of the great quartets of the literature is readily apparent. To these laudatory technical details must be added Weiland’s emotional facility. By turns passionate, elegiac, forceful, and even whimsical, Weiland creates a musical world which simply demands our attention.
The above should, of course, only be treated as a rough guide to the pleasures which await the listener. The music will speak for itself.
Dr. Calvin Bowman
Canberra, 9 January 2011
DMA Yale. Senior Lecturer in Music, Australian National University, Canberra
Other selected Reviews & Testimonials
"A remarkable Austrian first performance, Douglas Weiland’s “Trio in one movement” op. 22 introduced him to the audience as remarkably fresh, vivacious in his vitality, without any tonal hangups, and yet sparkling with innovation. A memorable evening of chamber music"
First Trio Op.22 1996 – Altenberg Trio Wien
Wiener Zeitung, Vienna
"...Its five-movement structure, with three slowish movements separated by faster and longer inventions, owes something to Bartok, to whom the finale is specifically inscribed in homage. The ideas are inventive and original, and the sure way they develop and communicate suggest a creative talent of persuasive imagination."
First Quartet Op.5 – Australian Quartet 1988 European Tour
The Times, London
"...inventive, idiomatic. The five movements embrace a variety of forms and textures, from the arid Grave, subtitled ‘Arkaroola’, to the consummatory Larghetto."
"…shows a firm grasp of what is perhaps the most demanding musical medium"
The Strad, London
"Douglas Weiland’s Homage to Philip Kendall, written two years ago and described by the composer as his ‘most mature and searching artistic chamber work to date’ made a tremendous impact. Much of it is elegiac in mood and surprisingly tuneful. Even more unusual is that no single instrument dominates the proceedings. It is indeed a finely crafted, cogently argued ensemble piece which arrestingly engages the ear and emotions and, more importantly, shows a logical musical mind at work."
Piano Quartet Op.25 1999 – Kenneth Sillito, Robert Smissen, Stephen Orton, Hamish Milne
Birmingham Post, Birmingham UK
"A composer of considerable stature."
University of Waterloo Gazette, Ontario Canada
"It is not to be assumed that a profound master of the quartet like Weiland chose the term “cavatina” without a certain sense of awe; nobody who opens himself up to the innocent magic of this simple theme and its uncontrived variations will doubt that we are here neither dealing with presumptuousness nor blasphemy, but with the purest dedication of timeless sincerity."
First Trio Op.22 1996 – Altenberg Trio 2000 Series: Brahms Saal, Musikverein Vienna, 24th Oct
"It has been a real pleasure to immerse myself recently in Douglas Weiland’s music. My instrument, the recorder, cries out for repertoire! To hear it come to life in the hands of a composer as expressive as Douglas would be very exciting."
Eminent Australian recorder virtuoso
"A first-class composition."
First Quartet Op. 5 Australian Quartet 1988 European Tour, London Premiere: Wigmore Hall
"Weiland’s Cello Suites are a wonderful enrichment to the unaccompanied cello repertoire."
Soloist, Professor of Cello, Zagreb Academy of Music
"I personally find the music of Douglas Weiland to be vital and life-affirming!
It is a uniquely personal language, engaging from the outset, succinct and beautifully crafted. Quite simply, he breathes conviction and sincerity in everything he creates."
Resident Artist and Coordinator of Piano, Australian National Academy of Music
Director and Pianist, Ensemble Liaison: Ensemble-in-Residence, Monash University
"It’s a great work – a wonderful enrichment to the repertoire of concertos for violin with string orchestra."
Concerto 290 in A minor for violin & strings Op.47 2009
William Hennessy/Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Victoria Tour May 2010
Soloist, Schostakowitch Trio Moscow
Altenberg Trio Wien
"Steven Isserlis played three of Bach’s Suites that are both the foundation and the summit of the cello repertory. The master cellist also gave the world premiere of the Isserlis Mikro-Suite by Douglas Weiland. The new work fitted well and was presented with the grace and expertise that were the hallmarks of this recital."
Third Solo Cello Suite Op.37
Eastern Daily Press, Norwich UK
"Altenberg Trio Wien played with meditative grace the UK premiere of a work by Douglas Weiland. This ambitious, deeply thoughtful piece (in which the contrasting texture of the instruments mirrors the gently episodic material) well reflects Weiland’s many years as a string player in the Academy of St Martin-in-the-fields."
First Trio – ATW 1999 UK Tour, Jacqueline du Pre Music Building