Richard Whitehouse. Gramophone. April 2012: 57.
Australian music has really come into its own over the last two decades, with Wendy Hiscocks playing no small part. She studied in Sydney with Peter Sculthorpe, whose evoking of spatial vistas through his instrumental writing is perceptible not least in Shades of the Alhambra (2009)—five movement for clarinet, cello and piano that render quotes from Washington Irving’s writings into an atmospheric whole…Of the other works, Nocturne (2007) is a deceptively rhapsodic translation of verse by Rabrindranath Tagore while Coral Fantasy (1994) elegantly depicts its scenes of marine life within a coral reef against a context of dawn and dusk above the waves. The two vocal items are no less telling in mood: Mother & Child (2000) sets four Tagore poems in a touching evocation of infant wonder and tragedy, whereas Libretto of the Eight Year Old (1999) sets the composer’s recollection of her first trip abroad in a secular cantata recalling such singular works as Barber’s Knoxville and Tippett’s Boyhood’s End.
The performances are as fine as might be expected, given the calibre of the musicians, but a special mention for Rachel Nicholls, whose thoughtful eloquence is at the service of often testing vocal writing…[the balance] between the instruments is unexceptionally fine and the composer’s own booklet-notes are a ready enhancement to listening which is never less than pleasurable.
David Denton. David’s Review Corner on Naxos 8.571377 Arthur Benjamin/ Edgar Bainton songs. November 2017.
Christopher Gillett’s songs are ideal for a tenor with that quintessential English quality, and I love his performance of Benjamin’s ‘Song of the Banana Carriers’. They both have Wendy Hiscocks’ perfectly balanced piano partnership, the composers making much use of the keyboard to add substance and colours. I confess I was brought up listening to songs of this era, and I most strongly commend these world premiere recordings to you. Top quality sound.
S.H.Smith. 4-star review on Amazon on Naxos 8.571377 Arthur Benjamin/ Edgar Bainton songs. November 2017.
The soloists on this recording, Susan Bickley (mezz sop) and Christopher Gillett (ten), put heart and soul into their work, while Wendy Hiscocks (piano) provides sterling accompaniment…Lovers of English art-song should have no hesitation in acquiring this disc, evenif, like me, they rue the absence of texts (for which, lost one asterisk!).
BBC Music Magazine, February 2019
‘An Artistic Highlight’
John McCabe’s ‘lost Australian recordings showcase the pianist at the peak of his talents.
Mountains released on Metier msv 28585, duration 62:40
In 1985 the composer and pianist John McCabe made a recording of contemporary Australian and American piano works. An initial edit was made, but the project floundered and the mastertapes were lost. Following an enquiry from Wendy Hiscocks after McCabe’s death, his widow found a tape of the edit, fortunately in good condition, and this superb project can now be heard. McCabe’s choice and placing of works is typically adroit, moving from the mesmeringly craggy textures of Sculthorpe’s Mountains via Hiscocks’s crystalline Toccata to David Maslanka’s unashamedly heartfelt Piano Song. The disc also stands as testament to McCabe’s wonderful pianistic artistry, his touch and sustained stillness being utterly sublime in the Largo doloroso of George Rochberg’s jazzy Carnival Music. In Don Bank’s Pezzo Dramatico McCabe find poetry admidst the intensity of the outer sections, he sprays magical colours effortlessly in Graeme Koehne’s Twilight Rain and luminosity abounds in Barney Child’s Heaven to clear when day did close. In short, a marvellous, utterly compelling rediscovery. [5 stars]
British Music Society, February news 2019
Review by Chris Bye of the John McCabe CD released by Metier
…This solo piano release is a remarkable collection of several finely thought pieces of pure artwork that were once feared to be lost forever…Wendy Hiscocks’s Toccata, is an arresting three-minute cameo. It is a short but potent piece, with an inexorable and bold momentum which relentlessly drives toward a stunning and abrupt Stravinskian-like conclusion. Toccata is a vibrant and erudite composition by a highly skilled musician…Music aficionados everywhere will be eternally grateful for the sterling work of McCabe’s widow, Monica, who rescued this distinctive collection from oblivion and thankfully preserves a veritable milestone in solo piano music we can now all enjoy.
John York. Piano Magazine.
Wendy Hiscocks is a composer of great finesse, well tuned to the fantasy-world of children, and her works for young pianists ‘Two Pieces for Cordelia’ and ‘Light’ are delightful, exquisite miniatures worthy to stand beside the classic children’s repertoire. She understands and nurtures piano colour, something often neglected or even negated by new composers…For more advanced pianists there is a suite of four pieces ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ and a searching piano trio called ‘Coral Fantasy’ — I found a lot to savour in this compelling music.
The West Australian (Perth Festival)
Wendy Hiscocks’s ‘Coral Fantasy’, inspired by visits to coral reefs in Hawaii and Australia, inhabits a very different sound world. It’s a delight. In turn restful and turbulent, with brief obeisances to Prokofiev and Shostakovich, and frequent changes of tempo (and pleasingly varied tonal colourings to add interest to the listening experience), Hiscocks’s piece has an unpretentious charm and immediacy.
[Hiscocks’s] attractive suite ‘Pastel & Oil’…launched the evening with imaginative flair…The outer pieces, ‘Morning Song’ and the final, lilting ‘Waltz’ drew rich sonorities from the bloc textures, with tonally orientated harmony offset by some colorful dissonance, and aptly ‘pastel shading’ in the delicate, high, melismatic lines for flute and clarinet. Their playful dialogues of trills and skittish gestures in the second piece ‘Scherzo’, formed an engaging contrast with the ‘Nocturne’s’ eloquent rhetorical exchanges amongst the bassoon, oboe and horn.
Andrew Lorenz. Stringendo: Journal of the Australian Strings Association. April 2012, Vol. XXXIV, No. 1: 67.
This is a delightful collection of chamber music (1994-2007) by the Australian composer Wendy Hiscocks. Shades of the Alhambra (clarinet, cello and piano) is a major work of 25′. It is wonderfully imaginative with intimate writing contrasting solo and contrapuntal lines with exotic sounding textures. The Nocturne (violin and piano) is a very fine piece of many moods with moments of beauty and power. The piano trio Coral Fantasy describes a magical world – a ballet of life under the sea. Each work would be a welcome and refreshingly different contribution to a recital program.
Darryl Coote. Victorian Music Teachers’ Association Journal. (2012 Review of Symposium CD)
Hiscocks’s compositional style is individual, dramatically reflective of texts and title, with some elements which, to this reviewer, could be said to have been inspired by Messiaen and Poulenc. The works are all descriptive and attractive, well worthy of inclusion in concert programmes.
Fine performances are offered by soprano Rachel Nicholls, violinist Madeleine Mitchell, cellist Brian Mullan, clarinettist Sarah Thurlow, violinist Philippa Mo and violist Michael Turner. Though not specifically stated, one assumes that the fine piano playing is that of Hiscocks herself. The sound is well-recorded, in a clear but nicely-resonant acoustic. A high-class booklet provides substantial programme notes, written by Hiscocks, serving to elucidate the fascinating programme of works. This disc is definitely recommended listening for those seeking contemporary works which are fresh and attractive.
Mike Smith ‘Review: Pandora’s Box, Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff’ appearing in Wales Online on February 21, 2013 after Wendy’s performance of Pandora’s Box for Welsh National Opera on February 20, 2013.
I am sure I am not the only person who found this WNO screening of the glorious 1928 film ‘Pandora’s Box’ added to their appreciation of the company’s current production of Berg’s ‘Lulu’…The 130 minute film is accompanied on the piano deftly by Wendy Hiscocks. Her achievement is at times helping to drive the story while at others disappearing into our subconcious background. The way she segues her playing into the party scene where Alwa is playing a jazzy number on the piano is superb.
(5 out of 5)