Rain WORTHINGTON Shredding Glass (2004) [10:08]
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Robert Ian Winstin
rec. Czech Radio Studio, Studio 1, Prague
RAIN WORTHINGTON no number [10:08]

Rain WORTHINGTON Yet Still Night – a nocturne for orchestra (2001) [6:02]
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Robert Ian Winstin
rec. Czech Radio Studio, Studio 1, Prague
From CD Baby
RAIN WORTHINGTON no number [6:02]

It’s always a real pleasure to discover a composer whose work is new to you, whose work speaks to the senses and is packed with real emotion.

Shredding Glass is Ms Worthington’s response to the atrocity of 9/11, but it’s not a wild, violent, “Somebody must pay” kind of piece; it’s about the mind-numbing unbelievability of the situation. It’s when you stand open-mouthed, wide-eyed, and speechless trying to take in what has happened.

This music is in a world of its own. It has an original voice and is quite specific in what it has to say. Certainly there’s much tragedy in the music, but Ms Worthington is no spectator here, she is consumed with what has happened. The affront is personal and she obviously felt the need to share her feelings.

Using a relatively small orchestra – no trumpets, and the most subtle percussion – she allows us to be part of the outrage, but not in any tub-thumping way, more in an intellectual and intelligent way than merely hang ’em high rhetoric. Worthington understands exactly how to convey painstaking agony without ever lapsing into cliché or being maudlin.

This is a very beautiful work, which weaves intricate patterns of sound in an hallucinogenic haze. It’s beautifully orchestrated, the material is well handled and it creates a dreamscape of exquisite allure. There are no heroes here, just we impotent onlookers.

Shredding Glass makes for a superb disk, and one not to be missed. Well worth investigating.

Not everything is cosy and nice in the nocturne Yet Still Night. There’s a very disturbing undercurrent to this music. Like the Swedish composer Allan Pettersson, Worthington has achingly difficult things to say to us, and her use of chromaticism, especially downward chromatic movement, to convey anguish, is very effective. Yet Still Night starts as a kind of starry night, the wrong notes in both harmony and melody only serving to show that there are clouds on the horizon. It’s a child’s vision, tempered by a child’s knowledge of the Bogeyman. There’s a monstrous clock in the middle, somehow eating away at time itself.

In its short playing time, Yet Still Night manages to covey a lifetime of horrors, doubts perhaps, and when it stops – it doesn’t end, it simply stops – we’re left none the wiser. Disquiet is obviously Worthington’s aim, and she succeeds superbly. This is a marvellous piece, with subtle orchestration and a bold wash of melody and harmony. I am excited by it, and I hope you will investigate it because, as they say, it’s well worth it. The sound is brilliantly clear and precise.

Bob Briggs

Not to be missed