The Panufnik Legacies
Andrew McCORMACK (b.1978)
Christian MASON (b.1984)
...from bursting suns escaping... [3:44]
Charlie PIPER (b.1982)
Eloise Nancie GLYNN (b.1985)
Edward NESBIT (b.1986)
Parallels I [2:54]
Parallels II [6:28]
Jason YARDE (b.1970)
Rude Awakening! [6:28]
Martin SUCKLING (b. 1981)
Fanfare for a Newborn Child [5:56]
Christopher MAYO (b.1980)
Elizabeth WINTERS (b.1979)
Sudden Squall, Sudden Shadow [3:42]
Vlad MAISTOROVICI (b.1985)
London Symphony Orchestra/François-Xavier Roth
rec. LSO St Luke’s, London, UK, 27-28 October 2012
LSO DISCOVERY LSO5061 [56:23]
There can hardly be a better and more productive way of remembering a composer than an enterprise such as this. The partnership between the LSO and Lady Panufnik, set up in memory of Polish composer Sir Andrzej Panufnik, has created a programme that has been running since 2005. This has nurtured the talents of no fewer than 51 young up-and-coming composers. This it does by helping them to create works and have them work-shopped by the magnificent London Symphony Orchestra under conductor François-Xavier Roth. There’s also mentoring from composer Colin Matthews acting as composition director.
The present disc is the first release of some of those works and shows that composing in Britain is not only alive and well but incredibly fruitful. This augurs extremely positively for the future of British classical music. Innovation and excitement are the two words that spring to mind when listening to these pieces since they are both delivered in spades. The accompanying booklet is very informative with the composer’s explanation concerning the background to each piece and then a short write-up about them detailing some of their achievements … and there have been plenty. I wonder whether, you, like me, come away from an art or photo exhibition fired with enthusiasm and a desire to paint or draw or photograph something, inspired by what you’ve seen. This music makes me feel the same way which is a tribute to its wonderful and inventive nature.
Andrew McCormack’s Incentive is described in the booklet as suggesting “the combination of keen motive and propulsive movement”. This it certainly does with a wonderfully driving forward thrust. Christian Mason’s ... from bursting suns escaping ... is an attempt to explore the relationship between light and sound; light being essential as a life-giving creative force while sound enlivens our inner being. Fleotan by Charlie Piper takes an old English word meaning ‘to float’ but which is also connected etymologically with ‘fleeting’. The music explores the ideas of short sections of sound that briefly appear only to be replaced by others. Sakura by Eloise Nancie Glynn is inspired by a haiku she wrote having watched cherry blossom blown by the wind (Sakura is Japanese for cherry blossom). Since she also plays the Shakuhachi - the Japanese flute - it seemed natural to reflect all this in the music. This includes some very evocative sounds made by blowing into wind instruments and just allowing the sound of the blowing to emerge rather than the note.
Edward Nesbit’s composition Parallels I and Parallels II is in two sections. The first, a short scherzando is quiet until brass disturbs the pace while the second, longer section is slower. Soon material from the first is superimposed and the piece finishes on a fast note. Jason Yarde’s Rude Awakening begins with a sound-world that reminded me of the inspiration behind the whole project, Andrzej Panufnik. This soon gives way to quite a different one. His description of dreamy sleep interrupted by a sudden realisation that you’ve slept through your alarm and are going to be late for wherever you have to be is perfectly captured. The opening theme reappears intermittently but finally there is that Rude Awakening! Jason’s main occupation is as an extremely successful jazz saxophonist. He’s in a jazz duo with the first composer on the disc, pianist Andrew McCormack. This piece shows that there’s more to practitioners of jazz than some might think. With Fanfare for a Newborn Child Martin Suckling drew inspiration from the birth of his nephew and godson. When he grows up Andrew O’Reilly will doubtless be more than proud to hear how his uncle chose to announce his arrival in the world. This is a charming fanfare, evoking fairy trumpets amid a flourish of orchestral sound that culminates in the fanfare proper.
Christopher Mayo took an earlier competition piece of some fourteen minutes and distilled it into this short four minute work. This evokes the visit to the competition in Thessaloniki in Greece with his memories of staying in “a thoroughly bizarre hotel ... a cross between The Shining and the hastily abandoned set of a 70s-era James Bond film”. It appears that Therma was the town’s original name which, having been built on a mosquito-infested swamp is the Greek work for malarial fever! Elizabeth Winters’ Sudden Squall, Sudden Shadow is the second piece inspired by a Japanese haiku. This time it pictures a sudden squall of snow or sleet and is as the composer describes it “colourful, bright and dramatic”. The final piece is by Romanian-born Vlad Maistorovici and is the longest at almost ten and a half minutes. The opening is a tribute, as Vlad says, to “the great tradition of orchestral openings” which to me had something of Nielsen about it. In this case the composer was trying to describe a halo of light. The ethereal quality of the music certainly alludes to it.
As I said at the outset the future of music in Britain is assured when music of the calibre of what is on this disc is being written. All the ten composers represented here deserve not only the highest praise but successful careers. The music was all uniformly excellent and I would be pleased indeed to hear longer works from each of them. The enterprise that has produced “The Panufnik Legacies” is a superb way to pay tribute to a great composer. The world of music will benefit for decades to come as a result. I urge music-lovers everywhere to listen to this disc and get an insight into where some of the future’s great music will be coming from.
An insight into where some of the future’s great music will be coming from.
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