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Sadie HARRISON (b. 1965)
The Rosegarden of Light
Ustad Mohammed OMAR
(‘The Judas Tree’) [3:34]
Dast be Dast: ‘Allah Hu’
(‘This is God’) (2014) [5:09]
Gulistan-e Nur: The Rosegarden of Light
(I Bahar-e Nastaran-bihag Interlude I; II Bahar-e Nastaran-bihag Movement I; III Shirin dokhtar-e maldar III Interlude II; IV Shirin dokhtar-e maldar Movement II; V Watan Jan Interlude III; VI Watan Jan Movement III) (2015) [24:06]
Traditional Afghan
Qataghani folksong
Ustad Salim SARMAST
Ay Shakhe Gul (‘Oh Flower Branch’)
(1950) arr. Kevin Bishop (2015) [3:25]
Traditional Afghan
(Logari Folksong; Pesta Faros (‘The Pistachio Seller’) arr. Kevin Bishop (2015); Ghunchai-e-Sorkh ('Red Rosebud')) [9:15]
ANIM Junior Ensemble of Traditional Instruments; Kevin Bishop (viola); Ensemble Zohra; Cuatro Puntos
rec. 17 Jan 2016, Berkman Recital Hall, Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford, Connecticut (Cuatro Puntos); 18 Aug 2015, Afghanistan National Institute of Music, Kabul

Sadie HARRISON (b.1965)
Solos and Duos for Strings and Piano
Gallery (Rooms 1 and 2) for solo violin (2012-13) [21:45 + 16:17]
... ballare una passacaglia di ombre ... for solo violin (2011) [3:36]
Hidden Ceremonies 1: 9 Fragments after Paintings by Brian Graham for solo piano (2013) [11:06]
Three Dances for Diana Nemorensis for solo viola (2013) [7:08]
... under the circle of the moon ... (2004) [12:07]
Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin), Mihailo Trandilovski (violin), Diana Mathews (viola), Roderick Chadwick (piano)
rec. 21-22 Oct 2014, St John the Baptist, Aldbury; 30 Oct 2014, St Michael's Highgate.

Sadie Harrison is an Australian who has lived in the UK since 1970. She studied in London under Nicola LeFanu and David Lumsdaine. At present she has in hand an operatic project about St. Christina the Astonishing. Toccata report that she represented Australia at the ISCM World Music Days in 2002. Her clarinet concerto The Fourteenth Terrace was entered in the World Music Days in Zagreb in 2005. Harrison is, in addition, a professional gardener and an archaeologist. Her music has been inspired by ancient worlds, natural phenomena and the paintings of Peter Sheppard Skĉrved and Brian Graham.

The Rosegarden of Light disc - just released - has a strong Afghani flavour which most Western listeners will recognise as a distinctive reflection of Middle-East manners and methods. The music consists of traditional Afghan pieces, original compositions by Harrison and arrangements by Kevin Bishop. Arghawan is a dance that showcases a plectrum-driven instrument, bouzouki-like in sound, with traditional ensemble. Dast be Dast is for solo viola and is hushed yet animated. Its sound may prompt memories of Holst's Four Songs for voice and solo violin. Sadie Harrison's engaging Gulistan-e Nur: The Rosegarden of Light (2015) is laid out in three pairs of Interlude and Movement, each founded on Afghan material. The music, often mysterious and husky, feels at various junctures like a Round, delightfully pointed dances that are fast pulsing and reflective islands. It often rejoices in subtle shadings and the finest thrusts and delicate slashes of a keenly-honed audio scalpel. The final piece has a touch of Steve Reich about it. Ay Shakhe Gul, as arranged in Westernised style by Kevin Bishop, is easy to assimilate. It has about it something of Alan Hovhaness and his gift for evoking angelic celestial dancing. The last three tracks involve two that are intriguingly traditional in sound but the central one Pesta Faros, again skilfully arranged by Kevin Bishop is very Westernised. The disc might present cataloguing difficulties in that it seems to move effortlessly between what I take to be authentic World Music and a 'classical' take on traditional Afghan material.

The second disc - Solos and Duos for Strings and Piano - is made up of many short pieces. In fact there are 39 tracks across 72 minutes. These form six works. Gallery (Room 1) for solo violin is the banner under which eleven are collected. The music is approachable, moving between Vaughan Williams (Along the Field and The Lark Ascending) and Holst (Four Medieval Songs), spiky blues, melodious legato writing, the chitter of insect flight and papery wings, sour and abrasive attack and meditative-static moments. Room 2 is in much the same region with angularity, simple songs sepia tinted, chattering aggression and hesitancy. Cymbeline's Fort (tr. 18) has an airy atmosphere track added before a gentle tune is ushered in. ... Ballare Una Passacaglia Di Ombre ... for solo violin is in the same broad ballpark.

As a break from the unadorned sound of the violin comes Hidden Ceremonies 1: Nine Fragments after Paintings by Brian Graham for solo piano. Harrison here introduces us to sepulchral muffled bells, slow moving and with long silences between single notes, nervy, fast, ruthless episodes, warm emotionality yet with complex dissonances, the stern and the taciturn, clinking railroad rhythms and a final piece (After Antler Music) in which Conlon Nancarrow might well be meeting Scott Joplin. The Three Dances for Diana Nemorensis are for solo viola. Here Harrison's interest in the ancient world surfaces: Diana charts stuttering unconfident progress, Hecate is suitably creepy with angular virtuosity while the final Selene feels like a tentative journey through some unknown world. We end with the seven movements that make up ... under the circle of the moon ... Mansions I-VII for two violins. Here harsh discords are mixed with steely dissonance, the violins seem to emulate electronic effects in the first piece. Other sections adopt broken linkages or are articulated in a way that will require much more listening from me before I can make out the nexus. In The Thousand Songs of Thebes there's more legato which smoothes progress but again the journey takes the listener into distant kingdoms. Albrecht Dürer Self-portrait 1500 AD - The Frankfurt Zoll is more humane and as a prize there's a singular melody which has an archaic ecclesiastical caste.

These are a valuable pair of discs which challengingly introduce this composer to a wider audience. Recording quality is forthright and documentation attains Toccata's usual eminence.

Rob Barnett
Track-List: Solos and Duos for Strings and Piano

Gallery (Room 1) for solo violin
1. The Flight of Swallows
2. Mint Tea in an Empty Medina
3. ... Same Strand ...
4. Measure for Measure
5. The Wonder of Flying Or Time for the Night of Practise
6. Return from Lysoen
7. Coffee With Aphra Behn: Westminster Abbey Cloisters
8. Nur Punktlich
9. Sheppard's Meadow
10. Two Morning Lights
11. It Rubs Off

Gallery (Room 2) for solo violin
12. The Writing Cabin in the Woods
13. Scheherazade
14. Early Responses to the Thames 1990 I: Twilight...Dawn
15. Practising Sadie Harrison
16. Lachrymae After Cotton Eye Joe
17. Stormfactory: Stravinsky, 'Three Pieces'
18. Cymbeline's Fort
19. Sarabande/Double - Walk Through the Graveyard

20 ... Ballare Una Passacaglia Di Ombre ... for solo violin

Hidden Ceremonies 1: 9 Fragments after Paintings by Brian Graham for solo piano
21. After Antiphon
22. After Sacrarium
23. After Palimpsest
24. After the Intervening Figure
25. After Flint
26. After Hearth
27. After Hidden Ceremony
28. After Spine
29. After Antler Music

Three Dances for Diana Nemorensis for solo viola
30. Diana
31. Hecate
32. Selene

... under the circle of the moon ... Mansions I-VII for two violins (2004) [12:07]
33. The Vision of Anne Catherine Emmerich
34. The Life of Skin
35. Brahma's Angels - Indra's Thunderbolt - Vaivasvata's Ark
36. The Thousand Songs of Thebes
37. Albrecht Dürer Self-portrait 1500 AD - The Frankfurt Zoll
38. Tourmaline
39. The Curse With Turtledoves



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