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WIND-UP Chamber Music

Peter Hill (piano) Hugh Webb (harp) Bridget Carey (viola) Francesca Hanley (flute) Barry Webb (trombone) with Julian Warburton (percussion). Ensemble Exposé/Roger Redgate
Metier MSV CD92042 [70.40]

These recordings dating from autumn 1999 bring together two composers who are lecturers at Durham University. Archbold is represented by pas de deux to Bridget Carey, composed for their wedding day, three tales Of Crossed Destinies for harp, and Disenchanted Voices for flute, viola & harp, a useful companion piece for the Debussy sonata.

Fitch has a book on Ockeghem  and has studied with Fernyhough. The CD takes its overall title from his Wind-Up cycle of piano pieces which explore 'mechanistic conceits'. It is surprising that the notes about musical mechanisms and their fascination do not mention Birtwistle, our chief exponent of this area of interest, and his Harrison's Clocks [Sound Circus SC004]. This theme is ostensibly a link between the piano pieces which begin and end this programme. Archbold's Etudes en mouvementi (1992-5), five 'studies in shaping the perceived flow of time', are accessible and expressive, more than obviously mechanistic on first hearing (e.g. the third is 'a six part canon concealed in a torrent of notes').

Fitch's three piano pieces share the same point of contact, whilst inhabiting very different sound-worlds. He likes jagged, stacccato chords. The third, See-saw (after Brahms), parodies a Brahms intermezzo. .Fitch's Wind-Up was premiered by Peter Hill, the expert pianist here, in Durham, March 2000. His Structures en Bronze, recorded in Huddersfield by two musicians from that University, has trombone & percussion going from confrontation to symbiosis, with the music increasingly dominated by glissandi. Finally, Filigranes, scored for five members of Exposé, is said to allude to master illuminators of the fifteenth century, but the connection eludes me, other than in its brief Commentary in the form of a prologue for flute, recorder, oboe, viola and cello, also included - a straight transcription of an Ars subtilio ballade and a sheer delight.

Fitch's music is more abrasive and less listener friendly than Archbold's, but both are worth persevering with. All the performances sound fine, though few would be in a position to judge authoritatively, and the back-up information is well written. A good CD for the tough-minded.


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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