This is a really delightful disc - varied, humorous and enjoyable.
Giles Swayne is best known for large choral works, such as Cry!
(1980) and Havoc (1999), so it is interesting to
hear him write on a smaller scale. He spent several years living
in a village in Ghana and is also known for the influence of
African music on his writing. This can be heard here in Canto
but the other tracks on this disc represent other aspects of
his work. The works span a considerable period of time, from
1970 to 2007, as well as a range of moods and influences.
The first work was written whilst still a student at the Royal Academy
and premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1971 with Jonathan
Williams. It is romantic in mood and expansive in style, in
some contrast to later works from Swayne. However, the Sonata
- from 2006 - is also recognisably in the European tradition,
with at least a passing nod to romantic composers such as Brahms.
The Suite No.1 is the most amusing piece of contemporary
music - not words which often come together! - I have heard
in a long time. It is a playful and enjoyable musical joke which
I shall let you have the pleasure of discovering for yourselves.
Born in Hertfordshire, Giles Swayne spent his early years in Singapore
and Australia before returning to England, first to Liverpool
and then to Yorkshire. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge,
the Royal Academy of Music, London (with Harrison Birtwistle)
and in Paris with Olivier Messiaen. He was encouraged to compose
by his cousin, Elizabeth Maconchy, and came to prominence with
Cry! (1980), an epic 'hymn to creation' for 28 voices,
electronically amplified. It was inspired by ideas from African
music and commissioned by BBC Radio Three.
Robert Irvine has had a distinguished career both in orchestral playing
and in chamber music. Born in Glasgow, at the age of 16 he won
a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where
he won several major prizes for both chamber music and solo
playing. After his studies, he joined the Philharmonia as sub-principal
cellist, but also worked extensively at Aldeburgh, where he
formed the Brindisi String Quartet as well as being principal
cellist of the Britten-Pears orchestra. In 1990, he returned
to his native Scotland to take up the post of principal cellist
with Scottish Opera, and to form, with Sally Beamish and James
Macmillan, the Chamber Group of Scotland. He is now a professor
of Cello and of Chamber Music at the Royal Scottish Academy
of Music and Drama (RSAMD). Robert Irvine has recorded several
CDs, including an acclaimed disc of the complete cello works
of Sally Beamish on BIS, and the Rachmaninov and the Shostakovich
sonatas for Delphian.
Fali Parvi, like Giles Swayne, has a cosmopolitan background: born
in Mumbai, India, he studied at the Moscow Conservatory and
at the Royal College of Music, London. He had the honour of
accompanying Rostropovich on an extensive concert tour of India.
A diverse subsequent musical career has included appearances
as a soloist and in chamber ensembles, together with regular
broadcasting. He is a fellow member of the faculty of the RSAMD,
and with Robert Irvine gave the world premiere of the Swayne
Cello Sonata at the Cheltenham Festival 2006.
I enjoyed this disc thoroughly. One of its main effects was to remind
me of how distinctive and intriguing a musical voice Swayne
has, and to want to listen again to Cry! (available on
NMC) and Havoc, premiered enjoyably as a late-night Prom.
A companion disc to this one, a selection of Swayne's other
choral output, is also available on Delphian Records, DCD 34033.