Fujikura Fifth Station; Greenwood Smear; Hayes Dark Room
No one could accuse the London Sinfonietta of neglecting younger composers, and these discs are the first of six to feature works premiered in association with the Jerwood Charitable Foundation – giving a fair overview of music from the younger generation of composers (all born between 1971 and 1977), while offering a tantalising perspective on creative talents still in the making.
Dark Room (2003) has Morgan Hayes pit clarinet against ensemble in a controlled decrescendo of activity, the musical ideas gradually being elaborated as textural contrasts become more fluid and amorphous – a gripping piece that recalls an earlier era of British Modernism. Jonny Greenwood’s Smear (2004), however, inevitably exudes a French influence through the use of ondes martenot as the timbral and harmonic basis for its progress through predominantly relaxed but never somnolent material…welcome repose before the onslaught of Dai Fujikura’s Fifth Station (2003), its dispersal of instruments around the auditorium aiding the impulsive, almost tangible dialogue of cello and ensemble, with the inconclusive close just one aspect of the piece’s impressive handling of musical time.
With Neon (2004), Tansy Davies has written a work consisting of ‘mobiles’ that could fit together in ways other than that heard here. What gives the music overall coherence is the subtle mutability of rhythmic ‘groove’ evinced by each mobile; one section purposefully modulating into the next so that a cumulative momentum can be perceived. Stuart MacRae’s Interact (2003) is more ambitious, provocative even, in its technical and expressive range. An often aggressive toccata, solo trumpet engaging in dynamic confrontation with other brass, is followed by a largely static sequence where the trumpet line binds together textures whose sparseness is enriched by the sheer precision of MacRae’s aural imagination. An engrossing piece, made more so through John Wallace’s understated virtuosity.
The live recordings have been capably and consistently transferred – even though the Queen Elizabeth Hall has greater spatial depth than is evident here – and the booklet-notes on works and composers are detailed and informative. A notable beginning, then, to an important series – with future instalments keenly to be anticipated.