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Jonathan COLE (b. 1970)
Testament (2005) [11:13]
Ben FOSKETT (b. 1977)
Violin Concerto (2004) [16:21]
Luke BEDFORD (b. 1978)
Or Voit Tout En Aventure (2005-2006) [15:12]

Clio Gould (violin) [2]; Claire Booth (soprano) [3]
London Sinfonietta/Oliver Knussen
rec. live, 5 December 2005 [1], 2 April 2004 [2]. 30 May 2006 [3], Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. DDD

Experience Classicsonline

This is the third disc in the London Sinfonietta’s Jerwood Series, a set of six discs of live recordings of works by young British-based composers, funded by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation. The series provides an excellent way for audiences to experience these works with minimum outlay (the CDs retail at much less than the price of a concert ticket) and demonstrate some of the best young compositional talent that this country has to offer. The three composers presented on this disc demonstrate a consistent quality in their work, and the pieces are all well written and interesting to listen to. 

Jonathan Cole’s Testament is a slow-moving, atmospheric work, which makes use of textures and timbral changes to create a sense of gradual evolution throughout the duration of the piece. Composed in tribute to Sue Knussen, the piece contains references to Stravinsky and Debussy, as well as a musical notation of the word ‘Sue’ (E flat and E) which forms the foundation of its harmonic language. This is a deep-felt work, which engages the listener throughout. 

Ben Foskett’s single movement Violin Concerto, excellently performed here by Clio Gould, places the solo violin against an ensemble which is otherwise devoid of violins, allowing the solo line to dominate. It is clear from the outset that Foskett’s imagination for orchestration is worthy of note; his brass writing is particularly well-conceived, with some wonderful colours coming from the harmonies and punctuated chords. The piece builds in intensity throughout its 16 minute duration, with an intensely difficult orchestral part performed convincingly and with panache by the London Sinfonietta. There is a breathtakingly beautiful moment [12:02] where the violin plays unaccompanied at the top of its register. The stark simplicity is an almost shocking contrast to the complex rhythms that have built up, and the effect is dramatic. The ensemble re-enters and joins the violin in a series of chords which build in intensity and dynamic, with the sense that the whole ensemble may explode. This is dramatic and exciting music; Foskett is clearly a composer to watch. 

The final work on the disc comes from Luke Bedford, Foskett’s contemporary at the Royal College of Music, and the newly-appointed composer in residence at the Wigmore Hall. Another high quality composition, Or Voit Tout En Aventure comprises six movements which are heard more or less as a continuous work. There is one short pause between the fourth and fifth movements. The texts come from medieval French and Italian and were originally used as song texts in the 14th century. Bedford’s sound-world is rich and luxurious, and Claire Booth’s stunning voice is complemented well by the surrounding orchestration. This is an intoxicating work which holds much appeal. 

This is a fantastic initiative, which brings attention to some highly worthy talent. All three works on this disc are excellent and highly enjoyable. For a listener who wanted to explore some new repertoire, this would be the perfect place to start.

Carla Rees

see also Review by Anne Ozorio



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