This is another “thematic” release from an enterprising label.
Lorelt often plan their recordings around an instrument’s repertoire
or around some common theme - their earlier releases centred on
British women composers. This disc explores the works of Irish,
Ulster-born composers of various generations and of different
musical backgrounds. Most are young and the older ones are still
in their late forties. Moreover, most of the pieces are also fairly
recent - composed a few years ago.
Mutable Sea from 1999 is the only work for ensemble
in this selection of chamber works. It is also the earliest.
The piece is a sort of miniature tone poem. It opens with a
beautifully atmospheric seascape. The music then becomes animated
in the central section before concluding with a brief restatement
of the opening, abruptly cut short. At about ten minutes into
the piece, the piano plays an ostinato reminiscent of the piano
part in the third movement of Stravinsky’s Symphony in
Three Movements; none the worse for that. This vivid
short piece is very fine and deserves to be heard.
Ed Bennett, whose
music is new to me, completed his Lost and Found
for violin and piano in 2002. “From the aggressive to the introspective,
Lost and Found is in five distinct sections, all
of which treat similar musical material in different ways” (the
composer’s words). This is exactly what happens in this theme
and variations. The work opens with a rather nervous and turbulent
section Frantic and concludes with a dreamy epilogue
Extremely Quiet and Calm of great lyrical beauty.
substantial Piano Trio could be a suite based
on Baroque models. Its movement are Fuga, Scherzo, Adagio
and Passacaille. In reality the composer intended neither
pastiche nor parody. He simply wished to revisit these forms
from his own point of view rather than to imitate Classical
models. The opening fugue is “slow and austere”, almost reticent.
The Scherzo is whimsical and its central section ghostlike,
but the whole is lively. The beautiful Adagio is an unbroken
cantilena for violin and cello. The piano briefly tries to disrupt
the proceedings, but in vain. The concluding Passacaille,
though not lacking in weight, is not of the grandly assertive
sort. On the whole, the music is understated but effective,
and quite beautifully made.
name and music were also new to me. By the way, he is the youngest
composer represented. Barcode 2 is a short duo
for flute and clarinet in five sections. At first, the players
are at some distance from each other. They play independently
and at different tempi. At the end of each section signalled
by a trill, they move closer to each other and the music progressively
becomes more coherent each time, so that they end up by playing
in unison. Nothing new under the sun, maybe, but this short
piece works very well indeed.
Elaine Agnew’s music
is probably better known, especially her splendid Strings
A-Stray for string orchestra (on Black Box BBM 1013
hopefully still available). Statues, completed
in 2001, is a substantial duo for violin and piano. It opens
with a short, pensive prologue for solo violin. With the piano’s
entry, the music becomes more song-like in character and leads
into the central section, actually a moto perpetuo. The epilogue
briefly echoes the opening music. A brief restatement of the
moto perpetuo’s music brilliantly, but abruptly concludes the
“The piece is my
response to the modern phenomenon of urban graffiti”, says Michael
Alcorn about Off the Wall for string quartet.
The music is more modern sounding than that of the other pieces
here. There is something of Ferneyhough’s New Complexity as
well as of so-called “spectral” music at work here. This is
a demanding piece of vivid, rhythmically nervous, often capricious
and virtuosic music; stronger stuff.
This release might
be considered a sequel to Lorelt’s earlier disc New Zealand
Women Composers (LNT 116). However the music here is much
better and consistently interesting with performances to match.
Well worth investigating.