This is a well presented CD with some appealing art work.
Graham Lynch is a British composer with a rock and jazz background,
and a Ph.D. in composition from Kings College London. His music
has been performed by a number of leading ensembles, and his work
in the tango genre has been widely accepted at an international
level. This disc includes works for flute and piano, composed
White Books I and II
are sets of short pieces for piano,
composed in 2001 and 2007/8 with seven and six movements respectively.
has a sense of distillation in the style; melodies
emerge from the harmony only to be absorbed once again, and each
piece has its own, almost impressionistic, texture and mood. Book
has evocative individual titles, which give a sense of
imaginary places and contrasts of atmosphere. The music is more
dramatic than the earlier book, with a stronger sense of rhythm
and greater sense of flow, while the structures become less reserved
and less crystalline than in the earlier pieces. A strong sense
of emotion pervades each movement, which takes on its own individual
personality in response to the descriptive nature of its title.
is a work for flute and piano - originally
saxophone and marimba - which is gently influenced by the musical
styles of the region. As with Lynch’s piano pieces, his music
has the sense that it is accompanied by an imaginary image, or
set of images, with the music describing both the scene, and perhaps
most importantly, its mood and emotion. The music is unindulgent
with clean, simple lines, and although the piece has a sense of
calm and repose, as if wandering around in a warm climate, there
is a clear sense of direction.
is a four movement piano work which takes its
title from flamenco, and also makes reference to poems by Lorca.
As one would expect with these two influences, there are strong
guitar-like references in the piano writing, and Lynch captures
the dark mood of Lorca’s writing well. Moon Cycle
short work for solo flute, based on the phases of the moon. The
modal musical language and well conceived rhythmic writing give
a sense of space to the music.
The disc ends with three tangos, orchestrated here for flute and
piano, although they have been performed in versions for various
different instrumental combinations. The Stolen Branch
is a simple tonal work which was originally planned as a setting
of a love poem by Neruda. Milonga Azure
is a gently flowing
café-style tango which brings to mind the music of Piazzolla,
and is delicately performed here. The final tango, Parájos
(Sea birds) is a slightly faster work with stronger
rhythms and a free central section. These three works are well
conceived and successful in their execution, demonstrating an
excellent understanding of the tango style and providing an interesting
contrast with Lynch’s other works.
This is an enjoyable disc which shows Lynch to have an interesting
and enticing compositional voice. The playing is consistently
good from Tanner and Poznansky; these performers play with a sense
of understanding of the music, providing an emotional context
and atmospheric mood with a good sense of communication with the
And a further perspective from Rob Barnett:-
Londoner Graham Lynch, after a spell in a remote part of the
West Highlands, now lives in Penzance in Cornwall. His teens
were divided between classical music studies and playing keyboards
in rock bands. His teachers include David Lumsdaine and Silvina
Milstein with private composition lessons from Oliver Knussen.
For the avoidance of doubt Lynch is not a minimalist – at least
not in the Glass, Reich or Adams senses
bio tells us that he went from a generally modernist approach
to more modal/melodic language inflected by voices outside the
classical mainstream. His Invisible Cities was premiered
in 1999 by the Orchestra of Opera North, and then taken up and
recorded and broadcast by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The BBC
National Orchestra of Wales took up his Stars in a High Wind
(1999). There was a sequel to Invisible Cities in the
form of Red and White Domes written for the Sinfonia
of Leeds in 2004. The tango also took a hold on his imagination
bringing a continuing stream of tango-related works which have
been widely taken up. He has also arranged Piazzolla’s Four
Seasons for the Belcea String Quartet, with bandoneon, and
double bass. There’s also a violin sonata among much else.
Turning to the present disc we encounter in the White Books
a ‘soft music’ that is melodic, modal and suggestive of the
Orient. The composer tells us that the scheme of the Books was
inspired by the format of Couperin’s Ordres. Very far
from banal it is nuanced and shot through with the tango and
the voices around the Mediterranean bowl. Then again we meet
in Vanishing Pathways a Butterworth-Housman poignancy.
The Graingerian Hamamet has a bell-loud oriental complexity.
Night Garden evokes a halting moonlit stroll as if walk
constantly interrupted by thoughts bearing inwards. Wave
Break has a grandeur woven into the granite and steel with
sparks and clashes. The Emperor’s Field is subtle and
suggestive. In this music there is often the sense of blue moonlight
but with the brightness of day. In the Second Book, Undiscovered
Islands and the final Toques we encounter momentary
flurries of rhetoric and eddies of sound - essentially tuneful.
It reminded me at times of the piano music of Estonian Urmis
Sisask in his sidereal glimmering writing with just a shading
of dissonance. The Sadness of the King is more melodic
but slow of pulse. The flute in Mediterranean is fruitily
played and recorded – apt in a work of flighty warmly-bathed
fantasy. Petenera was inspired by the poems of Federico
Garcia Lorca. It is like the best of William Baines in its Gallic-style
impressionism. Mooncycle has the trajectory of a feather.
It is in five short pause-separated sections. In Three Tangos,
Stolen Branch has a gracious piano pulse. It is haunting
writing and on the hazy moonlit edge of direct statement with
an Hispanic flavour emerging from time to time. Milonga Azure
sports a slow pulsed piano ostinato – like a lulling song
into sleep. Pajatrios del Mar has a dignified rigid strut
yet with a quiet impudence. It’s superbly done by Poznansky.
Mark Tanner has also recorded for Priory a very fine yet overlooked
2CD set of music by York Bowen.
Delicate, subtle and mesmerisingly impressionistic music.
see also review by John
Composer’s Notes and RB’s rough notes on private recordings
of Graham Lynch’s orchestral and chamber music.
This work is about ten years old, but is a piece I'm quite fond
of. It probably requires careful listening, as there is a lot
of delicate orchestral scoring. It was last played as the modern
test piece in the Leeds Conductors Competition: interesting
to hear it rehearsed by six different conductors! What was nice
was that I received a very positive reaction from the audience,
and it wasn't an audience that would normally listen to contemporary
RB: 14 mins duration – Scriabin-like ceremonial, mysteries,
dissonance and bells. Something of Valentin Silvestrov’s smoking
dreaminess and volatility. Has the sense of instinctive progress
- discursive and rhapsodic. Powerful impressionism.
Red and White Domes
This was written for the Sinfonia of Leeds, an amateur orchestra. For this reason the musical language is more direct than some of my other works. It's not a great recording, but will give you some idea of the piece.
RB: 20 mins. Atmosphere of awed tension (9.30) then ablaze with rhythmic vitality (12.03).
Stars in a High Wind
Written around the same time as Invisible Cities. Performed by BBCNOW and Brad Cohen. The BBC only sent me a cassette tape, with a little moment of distortion on it, hence the bad hiss!
RB: 11 mins. A breathy and magical slow-writhing movement.
A tango that I've had to re-arrange over twenty times. I can't locate the BBC Concert Orchestra version at the moment but I've sent what I consider to be the best performance, by a tango quintet.
RB: 3 mins – A tango volcano – mesmerising, hypnotic dripping – some parallels with the sway of the Stars In A High Wind but here extremely accessible.
This two movement piece is due for a bit of revision, especially the second movement. The piece has quite a strong tango Spanish influence.
RB: 8 mins first movement only. Winding, haunted, Grand Guignol, magical and hypnotic in effect. Fascinating and delicately pointed rhythmic play.
A recent set of five short pieces for clarinet and piano. These are entirely tonal, but not really tango-influenced, so a bit of a departure for me.
RB: 12 mins. Ian Peak (cl) and Jo Barlow (pf) – very much the English singer in style: Howells/Finzi but with an admixture of that mesmerising quality apparent in many of his other works.
The Hanging-Cloud Bridge
A harp piece from a few years ago: a short miniature based on a woodblock print by Hokusai: The Hanging-Cloud Bridge
RB: 4 mins. A sense of Et in arcadia ego – all
leaf-flutter and sybaritic pearly deliquescence. All totally
consonant with the harp's accustomed character - we come back
to his orchestral statements of faith from the late-1990s above.
Piece played here by Marshall McGuire.