Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Karl JENKINS - Imagined Oceans Pamela Thorby (recorder); Sarah Eyden (soprano); Micaela Haslam (mezzo-soprano); Heather Cairncross (alto); Karl Jenkins Ensemble SONY CLASSICAL SK 60668 [67:37]  


The CD booklet blurb announces this collection as a musical interpretation of thirteen of the Latin titles given to what was believed to be areas of water on the moon. What has it to do with film music? Something and nothing! The lunar associations are a nice introduction to our summer sci-fi and monster movie collection of reviews that follow and, anyway, to my ears much of this music sounds very "filmic" - for instance, Lacus Serenitatis could have been penned by Horner as a eulogy for Titanic.

Welsh-born (of mixed Welsh and Swedish parents) Karl Jenkins studied at the University of Wales, Cardiff and later at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He has a jazz background and worked with Ronnie Scott among others and co-founded Nucleus in 1972 (which won first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival) before joining Soft Machine which was one of the seminal and progressive bands of the 70s, embracing a wide variety of styles from jazz and classical rock, including even "minimalism" before it was widely known as such. Defying categorisation, it played at venues as diverse as The Proms, the Newport Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall and the Montreux Festival. In recent years Jenkins has become one of the world’s best-selling living composers. His album, "Diamond Music" went straight into Top Ten Classical charts in several countries. Karl’s Adiemus recordings have achieved Classical and Pop chart positions the world over as well as silver, gold and platinum sales awards from UK, Europe and Asia. Jenkins continues to conduct Adiemus Live concerts with distinguished orchestras including the London Philharmonic.

Clearly this is cross-over music and very attractive a lot of it is too. Quoting Karl Jenkins’ own CD booklet notes: "Imagined Oceans is a musical interpretation of the moon’s features to which the earlier astronomers gave evocative and romantic Latin names. By incorporating various instruments and compositional techniques - for example the steam-like cymbals of "Mare Vaporum" (Sea of Vapours), the "hornpipe" of "Mare Undarum" (Sea of Waves), the relentless repetitive (syncopated) rhythm of "Lacus Pereverantiae" (Lake of Perseverance) and the pizzicato string "raindrops" in "Mare Imbrium" (Sea of Showers) - I have endeavoured to create a world of aquatic fantasy, a world of Imagined Oceans.

Each of these varied numbers has a charm of its own. The "Mare Vaporum" number is a particularly bewitching study in pizzicati with vocal pop/plainchant overtones and a beguiling flute part. "Mare Australis" (Southern Sea) bows towards Mozart flavoured with Swingle Singers, Australian diggery-do and PDQ Bach spicings. "Lacus Somnorium" (Lake of Dreams) is a wistful mix of plainchant and lullaby. This number is distinguished as elsewhere by the outstanding recorder playing of Pamela Thorby - evocative and imaginative. Jenkins uses his voices originally too. He says, "For Imagined Oceans I envisaged a piece using three female singers with an extensive vocal range...I composed Imagined Oceans with their combined range of over three and a half octaves in mind. Well worth exploring.

Ian Lace

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