Lyrical, direct, and exhibiting a masterful understanding of vocal writing, Carl Vine's secular cantata for soprano and strings, The Tree of Man, is a gift to audience and musicians alike. The 11-minute work, written in 2012 for the Australian Chamber Orchestra and soprano Daniele de Niese, is based on a passage from a novel of the same name by the Nobel Prize-winning author Patrick White. Vine knew White personally (having written music for several of his stage plays in the 1980s), and his setting perfectly complements the simplicity and sincerity of the prose. The music moves in an arc from its quietly insistent beginnings and rhapsodic central section to a haunting conclusion, where the brooding opening returns before evaporating into the air . . .