Divine Art's Metier label is to issue a 'lost' Australian piano recording by the late John McCabe, of music by Australian and American composers. Commercially recorded by John in Sydney in 1985, these stunning performances of works by Peter Sculthorpe, Wendy Hiscocks, David Maslanka, Don Banks, Graeme Koehne, George Rochberg and Barney Childs sat on the back-burner in the Sydney studio, awaiting the final touches to the editing. Eventually the studio closed down and the master-tapes were presumed lost.
The recording has been remarkably rescued in the last couple of years, from a Dolby cassette sent for listening purposes to John McCabe in England, re-traced by his widow, Monica. Put on CD by Paul Arden-Taylor, of Dinmore Records, it was heard to be so remarkably well-preserved, and with such excellent sound, that after some extra re-mixing by Divine Art to help eliminate traces of post-echo, and with the help of the specialist listening abilities of the leading producer, Andrew Keener, it is now to be issued as an unknown 'new' recording by John.
The CD is known by the title of the first work on the record, Mountains, by Peter Sculthorpe. Many of the works on the CD have a strong connection to John. He knew, to a greater or lesser extent, all the composers. He was a close friend of Don Banks and Barney Childs (whose piece is dedicated to John and another pianist). The Maslanka work was actually written for him. He frequently played a number of the pieces in recitals. Those who associate John's piano-playing with Haydn may be surprised by his idiomatic performance of the Blues in Carnival Music. John played music he believed in, and did his best to further its acceptance by audiences. On more than one occasion he added Maslanka's Piano Song into a recital, telling the audience, 'This is a surprise item - a modern work which you will enjoy!' And they always did.
Mountains will be issued early in the New Year by Metier, on MSV 28585.