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Excellently played

BBC Music Magazine, Nicholas Williams


The primacy of wind instruments in Harrison Birtwistle’s output can stand as much for their quality of primitive pastoral (eg in the opening of The Rite of spring) as for their much-prized neo-classical coolness. In the flute Duets for Storah (Storah was a Neolithic Hebridean ruler) it is the former quality that typically predominates. Beneath the surface of these austere variations in the Scottish “pibroch” tradition, there resides a shape as inevitable and archetypal as that of a prehistoric axe.

It was this instinctive quality, of music moving forward without sense of antecedent and consequent, that marked Refrain and Choruses (1957) for wind quintet as a milestone not only in Birtwistle’s career, but also in the story of postwar British music. The other pieces on this disc either continue its implications, or add appendices, such as the youthful Cuckooing Bird c1951, for piano, which suggests Debussy’s pentatonic preludes as a distant model. Hector’s Dawn and Sad Song likewise show the composer’s gift for whimsical thoughts of one idea (literally themes, in an elemental sense). Verses, An Interrupted Endless Melody and Five Distances connect the main thread of Birtwistle’s thinking with his music now, excellently played on this invaluable collection…..

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MusicWeb International, Hubert Culot

Demands that were easily met

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A young ensemble of considerable merit

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Superb sound

Richard Whitehouse

One of the highlights

Paul Conway, The Independent

Stunning music and extraordinary playing

 

The Observer, Edward Bhesania

Well performed

The Sunday Times, Paul Driver

The performances are simply breath-taking

Gramophone, Andrew Achenbach

Endlessly fascinating

The Guardian, Andrew Clements

Incisive, confident and well-tuned

BBC Music Magazine, Anthony Burton

Excellent ensemble playing and vivid recording.

Classical Music on the Web UK, Peter Grahame Woolf

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Beautiful, delicate and fluent playing

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19/09/2020