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ASO’s Alexander Permezel’s top 8 ‘desert Island discs’


A rock-star cello duo’s performance of the AC/DC hit ‘Thunderstruck’ and a track from Gladiator are among Adelaide Symphony Orchestra violinist Alexander Permezel’s eclectic collection of desert island disc picks.

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Being a musician is not a just job for Alexander Permezel, it’s more of a lifestyle.

“Breathing, eating, sleeping music twenty-four-seven is the preoccupation of a professional musician,” he says.

“As I am writing this I am researching and listening to music for future projects but I think being able to communicate with people from any walk of life, culture, creed or age is a very special skill to have, as music brings everyone from all the corners of the globe closer together and promotes understanding.”

Here, in the vein of BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Permezel nominates the eight discs he would want to take if isolated on a desert island, along with a book and single luxury item.

1: 2Cellos, Thunderstruck 

I posted this video on Facebook a day after my birthday in April and I used it to describe how the world we used to know has, quite possibly, irrevocably changed forever. The song was written and featured as the lead single for AC/DC’s album The Razors Edge in 1990.

2: Max Richter, Vivaldi Recomposed

Would you believe this is just one track and yes, you guessed it, it’s a complete recomposition and reinterpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The soloist is Daniel Hope and the recording was released on Rubicon Classics just last year.

3: Rachmaninoff, Symphonic Dances

This is a fabulous piece of music. You kind of need to listen to all three movements to get the full gist of the work but fear not, turn your stereo up to 11 and let the music do all the thinking… Oh yeah, it also features an alto saxophone, an instrument not heard very often with a symphony orchestra.

4: Sounds of Kolachi, Ilahllah

This one is a bit left of field. It is an example of a new genre developing in Asia called Sufi Music. Although Sufi Music in the Middle East has been around for thousands of years, this music has been contemporarised with traditional voice and instruments and is played mic’d up with a drum beat and bass lines. If you have a bit of a spiritual bent you’ll think it is pretty cool.

5: Hans Zimmer, Time

Time is something some of us have too much of at the moment. When the COVID-19 restrictions are fully relaxed it will be TIME to get on with life.

6: Hans Zimmer, Now We Are Free (from Gladiator)

This track kind of accompanies “Time” and is fairly self-explanatory. It’s a good strength-building theme song, I think it worked well for Russell Crowe but Maximus Decimus Meridius does eventually take one for the team in the end.

7: Samuel Barber, Adagio for Strings

It’s only one movement in its original string quartet form but as chamber orchestra piece it’s probably one the most beautiful-sounding compositions of all time. It’s interesting how using the extra players can give the work more depth and sonority.

8: 2Cellos, Benedictus

This is my last track. I thought I’d finish with 2Cellos to give a slight visual representation of Ternary Form and, interestingly, it is sometimes called Song Form. This piece has such a great melody and is passed on from one instrument to the other in an incredibly caring and loving way.

Book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I am a firm believer that we are all born with the tools to help us get through the rigours of our lifetime and this book best describes that. If one can’t find the means to solve their problems, then they need to look deeper and harder – or else find a very good solicitor.

Luxury item: Well its certainly not toilet paper; this should be a human right. Strangely, though, my luxury item at the moment would also not be considered opulent – it’s a laptop. Because the musicians of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra have been relegated to working from home, a laptop has become a very integral part of our lives, but as part of our normal everyday duties as a performing musician a computer is not required.

Mobile phones are so advanced these days you can pretty much do everything on one as you would with a computer – downloading music, replying to your emails, printing off scores, paying your bills on time (I hope), and uploading on to YouTube. So during these COVID-19 restrictions you could say all the musicians have become a new generation of Netizens surfing the uncharted waters of this uncertain, unparalleled world.

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra live performances are currently on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions, but it is presenting a series of online recitals through its Virtual Concert Hall. The orchestra’s musicians will be returning to rehearse in sections and “instrument families” from June 9.

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