Traum des Sängers; WAM; Mars+Venus; Ének.
with Charles Mutter (violin)
NMCD043 [54 min]
The Ixion Ensemble has long been associated with the music of Michael
Finnissy (b 1946). This CD is reckoned to be 'the best possible introduction
to the music of one of Britain's most distinctive compositional talents'
(Gramophone 1999) and is reviewed now in connection with his conducting an
concert at The Warehouse in the BMIC Cutting Edge series,
attended by Seen&Heard. Finnissy is also a virtuoso pianist and
an important teacher of many of the British composers now active. During
the 1990s he served as President of the International Society of Contemporary
Traum des Sängers (1994), dedicated to Andrew Toovey,
has four strings representing a sleeping minstrel, with guitar, clarinet
and vibraphone conveying the 'imagined world' of his dreams; a piece of
exceptional beauty, romantic and melodic, with small solos for each instrument
and an enigmatic ending punctuated with long pauses. For me (not a complete
Finnissy devotee) this was the most haunting music of his I had heard since
the Tunbridge Wells première of his String Trio, with its framework
derived from Mahler [Etcetera ETC KTC 1096].
WAM is an assemblage of (very) distorted fragments from Mozart's
early music, a debunking of the assumption that he was consistently 'great'.
Mars+Venus (1993) is a tough, very dissonant piece for larger
ensemble, dealing with 'the atavistic forces of war and love present in ordinary
people'. Violinist Charles Mutter is well suited to Finnissy's
Ének, based on Hungarian gypsy gestures & intervallic
vocabulary, and first played by Maxim Vengerov at the 1990 Carl Flesch
International Violin Competition in London. Some British music
aficionado may find this piece an easier way into this composer's
elusive sound world.
Peter Grahame Woolf