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Excellent performances, highly characterful, firmly shaped and dramatic

New York Times, Paul Griffiths


The “Duets for Storab” for flutes… have a livelier, more dynamically varied and more vividly drawn performance in the recording by the Galliard Ensemble, a young British team (Deux-Elles DXL 1019).


…elemental in Sir Harrison’s music: the principle of two voices, of pair activity, of joining and separating, of finding the right fit — at the simplest level, the just placement of one note against another… he started his first published piece, “Refrains and Choruses” for wind quintet (1957), with one prolonged note, which becomes an invitation and a challenge to other motifs, other instruments. These have to place themselves against that note, either to accompany it or to make it their accompaniment.

The Galliard compilation effectively begins from this point (after an electric little overture in the “Hoquetus Petrus” for piccolo trumpet and flutes, a homage to Pierre Boulez) and ends with Sir Harrison’s second work for wind quintet, “Five Distances” (1992).


Both receive excellent performances, highly characterful, firmly shaped and dramatic. And both gain from the way they are programmed here: as the origin, and a much later instance, of a musical world where growth, forceful and urgent, proceeds not only within each piece but in the gaps between.

Sprinkled into the gap between the two quintets is a succession of other wind pieces — including “Linoi,” in a knockout performance by the clarinetist Katherine Spencer — and piano solos.

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