Jane Antonia CORNISH (b. 1975)
Memory of Time [6:20]
Into Silence I [6:46]
Scattered Light [4:34]
Into Silence II [2:39]
Anna Elashvili (violin)
Caitlin Sullivan, Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, Claire Bryant, Hamilton Berry (cellos)
Vicky Chow (piano)
rec. Avatar Studios, dates not given
INNOVA 976 [31:49]
Jane Antonia Cornish is known for her film music and has appeared on the innova label before with her album Continuum and another before that, Duende on the Delos label. Gary Dalkin’s interview with her can be read here.
The music on Into Silence is deeply atmospheric. The instruments are balanced in very specific ways, and loaded with enough reverb to make you wonder sometimes what you are actually hearing. The first track, Memory in Time, is beautifully played on stringed instruments but if listening blind you might not identify the accompaniment to a gorgeous violin solo as such. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of instruments being transformed and shaped into new sounds, and my attention was grabbed from the start, but conventionally presented chamber music this is not.
I would be very surprised if some of these tracks weren’t taken up by film producers looking for solemn sonic backdrops, and the piano phrases of Into Silence I are a shoe-in for reflective poignancy as they would have been with Radiohead’s Pyramid Song without the vocals, and to which in this case a debt would appear to be owed. The cello figure at the end of Into Silence I turns into a solo, Scattered Light, played by Hamilton Berry. This is a nice etude-like piece whose harmonic progressions are conjured with arpeggios over the strings in a manner that will be familiar to anyone who has come across the Caprices of Alfredo Piatti.
Another soulful violin solo over a bed of cellos takes shape in the appropriately entitled Elegia. This is all very lovely, but the magical effect of four cellos is now beginning to seem a little under-used. Into Silence II is a piano solo re-run of Into Silence I. If it were me I would have flipped these numbers and had the solo first, but it doesn’t really matter. The cellos finally come a little more into their own in the final track, Luminescence. A distant halo of electronic sound creates a mist of tonality over, or under which a lyrical solo develops. The remaining instruments retain their function as a mysterious accompaniment that fades, indeed, into silence.
This is one of those lovely albums that takes you to a specific place, creating a unified atmosphere and resolutely refusing to shock – making it ideal for relaxing candle-lit baths and enhancing moods of tender contemplation: ‘useful’ music in this and previously mentioned regards, and none the worse for that. Entering such a ballroom of beauty is a rewarding and wondrous experience, but I will always have the feeling there is a palace beyond that has yet to be discovered.