Christopher WRIGHT (b. 1954)
Spring Overture (2007)a [4:45]
A Little Light Music (2006)b [15:05]
Threnody for Orchestra (2002)c [10:18]
Searching (2006)d [10:34]
Idyll for Small Orchestra (2000)e [9:18]
Divertimento (2008)f [8:29]
Capriccio Burlesque (2008)g [5:02]
Maxwell Spiers (cor anglais)d; John Turner (treble recorder)f
Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Barry Wordsworthbg, Gavin Sutherlandacd;
Manchester Sinfonia/Christopher Wrightef
rec. Angel Studios, London, 15 March 2007 (A Little Light Music, Capriccio Burlesque) and 9 July 2007 (Spring Overture, Threnody, Searching) and St Thomas’ Church, Stockport, 19 January 2009 (Idyll, Divertimento)
DUTTON CDLX 7240 [64:11]
Christopher Wright here presents his calling card as a composer for the orchestra. His chamber and human voice aspects can be sampled on a Merlin Classics disc MRFD070914 – also reviewed here.
Dutton have done him proud both as to documentation and in providing a generous selection from his catalogue. His A Spring Overture - a modesty there - bustles yet is shot through with silverpoints and the gleam of crystal. It was inspired by Walton's Portsmouth Point but also seems to reference the open-air Copland of the Outdoor Overture. The four movement A Little Light Music acts the part with singing energy and moody inwardness. It references the great English string tradition from Elgar to Parry to Purcell to Vaughan Williams and Tippett. It's a luminous work full of inventive touches to tickle and flatter the ear. The Threnody for orchestra was one of three works written circa 2002. All were affected by the composer coming to terms with his mother's death. The other two are the Four Meditations on the Merlin disc and In Memoriam for chorus and orchestra – which I have not heard but would like to. The Threnody is by no means all sorrow. There is anger here too of the sort that bellows out in the Finzi Cello Concerto tuttis and there’s considerable eloquence too. It's a very powerful and deeply moving work. As Wordsworth said - and Finzi through Wordsworth – the Threnody speaks of "thoughts too deep for tears". The music is broadly within the ‘church’ of Howells and Hadley. My attention was held throughout. Searching for cor anglais and strings explores another potent theme for modern times: the composer addresses a world bereft of stillness and security in which activity blots out reality and travel fills the need for escape from self. The sorrowing cor anglais meanders and reflects until the music sinks into a querulous rest. The final pages have the gleam of the violins fading … fading. The Idyll for small orchestra is the third of three ten minute orchestral essays. It is the most strongly keyed into the English musical tradition with a distinct Finzian mien redolent somewhat of the Severn Rhapsody. The Divertimento throws aside drowsy pastoral visions with bubbling and witty playing of that one man dynamo of the British recorder repertoire John Turner. It's a wonderfully vivacious work in three sections laid out as a single track. The Capriccio Burlesque for strings takes us back to the bustling world of A Little Light Music and A Spring Overture. It's again in the grand English tradition yet adds valuably to it rather than being in thrall to its greatest monuments.
The disc is well documented and very attentively recorded.
I hope there will be more from Christopher wright. For now what we have here speaks from lush English pastures - landscapes and, more to the point, mindscapes. There is nothing wrong with light music and some of these works fit that label but other things such as Searching and the Threnody are much, much more.
Rob Barnett