Pleasure Garden by Genevieve Lacey – Meldi Arkinstall Review

Pleasure Garden by Genevieve Lacey – Meldi Arkinstall Review

View of Vaucluse House, pleasure garden and fountainGardens can be status symbols, labours and larders. They are also hallowed spaces, which nudge us to look and think again said Dr Damon Young, philosopher and author.

Imagine you’re walking through a garden full of magical and mystical sounds.

That’s what listening to Pleasure Garden by Genevieve Lacey is like.

Working out what to call Lacey is difficult: she’s a highly acclaimed international virtuosos recorder player, but also a curator and experimentalist. She’s been Artistic Director of a number of music festivals, and on this disc she shows her true imaginative talent.

Real bird calls that were recorded in Bermagui (NSW), Utrecht (The Netherlands), Kristiansand (Norway) are integrated throughout this extraordinary disc, which features Lacey on recorders of all kinds and pitches, along with Jan Bang, Jacob van Eyck and Jim Atkins.

Modern technology has been used extensively to create lovely layerings and treatments of what are natural sounds, and the result is stunning.

Genevieve Lacey 2The first few tracks (Lichen and Amarilli) are highly atmospheric, with the second track sounding like magical chimes that are gradually overtaken by the whirring sound and energy of birds in the forest.

It creates a great sense of peace and would be great for relaxation.

An unusual burbling sound open track 3, Granite, and it is in fact Lacey herself, blowing her lips!

It sounds like an exotic kind of bird nesting in the shadows of a secret long lost pond. Microtones are used to great affect here, and although there is an essentially modern technique, they bring you right back to nature.

This disc was inspired by Jacob van Eyck (1590-1657), a seventeenth century Dutch nobleman and musician who was blind from birth.

Period Recorder player

van Eyck was not only employed by the city of Utrecht to play and tend to the cathedral bells, but also to wander through the Janskerkhof public gardens playing on ‘his little flute’ (recorder).

The lusthof, or pleasure garden, was a domesticated version of the ancient Greek ideal of Arcadia, an ideal public place of recreation, courtship and entertainment.


Genevieve Lacey has played van Eyck’s compositions for recorder in many different settings, including weddings, funerals and an array of concert settings, and she describes them “as friends” she has taken many places, so dear are they to her.

This is Lacey’s curating of van Eyck’s “exquisite blooms” in different environments.

Recordings of birds were made in places as far and wide as Melbourne, Bermagui NSW, Utrecht, Kristiansand and Lambley in Victoria. To them she adds her own improvisations and interpretations of the miracle of nature

The tracks that follow feature beautiful low bass recorder, in the breathy Her Nest, and also beautiful ethereal descant recorder sounds that make you think there must be a God, for a sounds so beautiful to be created.

Bermagui Dawn features natural bird song and has a lovely haunting quality.

The mood changes suddenly with Track 12, Feather Storm. Very intricate, fast notes that sound a bit like a computer system gone crazy spiral upwards.

It feels a bit spooky, like something bad is going to happen.

Has a predator disturbed the birds and this is their way of sending out the alarm?

I would love to have heard this track a bit beyond its very short 1 min 05 sec, but perhaps that’s the point: the disturbance disappears as quickly as it came.

Pale Blue Evenings by van Eyck ends the disc, and feels a bit like being in church, with its bell-like sounds.

Genevieve Lacey is appearing at the Ngeringa Cultural Centre in the Adelaide Hills April 23-24, as part of a festival she has curated: Ngeringa 24.

A new concert hall that opened at Mt Barker Summit in 2015 thanks to the support and vision of arts philanthropist, Ulrike Klein, will be the venue.

Meldi Arkinstall, CD-Music Reviews, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016

Genevieve Lacy – Pleasure Garden


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