Monday 20 May 2013

A well recorded CD from LSO Live that is a tribute to both the composers featured and the Panufnik Young Composers Scheme

It is one thing investigating new music by established contemporary composers but what about those who have yet to make a name for themselves. This is where the London Symphony Orchestra Panufnik Young Composers Scheme is so invaluable . Generously supported by the Helen Hamlyn Trust, it was devised by the LSO in association with Lady Panufnik in memory of her late husband, the composer Sir Andrzej Panufnik

The LSO Discovery Panufnik Young Composers Scheme, begun in 2005, is an exciting initiative offering six emerging composers, each year, the opportunity to write for a world-class symphony orchestra. Under the guidance of renowned composer Colin Matthews, the scheme enables composers to experiment over time and develop their orchestral writing skills whilst they form collaborative musical relationships with LSO players as well as witnessing their specially composed pieces put under the microscope by the LSO and François-Xavier Roth in a public workshop rehearsal.

In addition, each year the Panufnik Young Composers Scheme offers one composer the chance to write a larger-scale commission for a main-stage Barbican concert and to hear it rehearsed by the LSO well in advance of its première, giving them valuable time to refine and rework these pieces prior to public exposure.

LSO Live has just released a new recording featuring the work of ten emerging composers from across the first five years of the LSO Panufnik Scheme. François-Xavier Roth  conducts the London Symphony Orchestra on this new disc, recorded in LSO St Luke's , that will enable the LSO to share and promote the composers' music world-wide.

‘Incentive’ by Andrew McCormick (b.1978) is a lively rhythmic piece full of momentum and extremely well orchestrated. There are quieter moments, though the rhythm of the piece still lurks. This is an enjoyable and hugely listenable piece with just a hint of Stravinsky as the work progresses.

Christian Mason’s (b.1984)  ‘…from bursting suns escaping’ opens with a gentle burst of sound and continues with little bursts that seem to gently propel the music forward, sometimes scurrying as it goes. There is some very attractive orchestral writing with the music having the effect of sounding as through the music is expanding then contracting before just fading away at the end.

‘Flëotan’ by Charlie Piper (b.1982) starts with a Japanese feel, with percussion and woodwind, before it develops into a fuller orchestral sound. The music quietens part way through with some lovely orchestral sounds, though the threat of an eruption in the orchestra never seems far away. The music eventually returns to the opening rhythm, unstable in its nature until it suddenly ends.

There is a quiet opening to ‘Sakura’ by Eloise Nancie Gynn (b.1985)  with a flute playing against some atmospheric hazy orchestral sounds, quite intoxicating. The music grows stronger, with shimmering orchestral sounds and woodwind. It becomes more agitated before a central section that has a gentle orchestral theme with fluttering flute sounds. This piece is quite superbly written. Towards the end the music simply disappears. A lovely piece.

Edward Nesbitt’s (b.1886) . ‘Parallels’ consists of two movements. Parallels I opens with short stabbing phrases before the music begins to dance around with some intricate orchestral writing. Percussion play a significant part as the music grows louder, with brass, before quietening with a last orchestral outburst at the end. Parallels II has a quiet opening, with woodwind, in some lovely textures. The brass return with the outbursts from the first movement before the percussion leads the music on with piano, brass and woodwind. Various instruments make little stabbing interjections before the music quietens, with flute and hushed orchestra, in a lovely little melody. The interjections re-appear as the music grows louder, leading to the coda.

‘Rude awakening’ by Jason Yarde (b.1970) opens with gentle percussion and woodwind leading to a lovely, quiet melody which is repeated before being developed and expanded. There is a livelier section with percussion that becomes quite riotous at times but the melody still underlays this rhythmic music as it builds to a climax.

Martin Suckling’s (b.1981) ‘Fanfare for a Newborn Child’ has scurrying strings and percussion to open the work. There is a quiet section with solo violin, percussion and orchestra and, later, woodblocks join the orchestra in a light textured section before the woodwind provide some flourishes that provide something of fanfare to end the work.

The strings slowly try to emerge from the basses in the opening of Christopher Mayo’s (b.1980) ‘Therma’. The brass helps to pull the music along, which becomes more rhythmic as it gains momentum. The low notes remain as the upper orchestra moves along towards the conclusion of this skilfully written work that provides so much from such little material.

‘Sudden Squall, Sudden Shadow’ by Elizabeth Winters (b.1979)  brings sudden rapid woodwind to introduce the work, very much invoking a sudden squall. Various instruments, including percussion, rapidly scurry around. Eventually the music tries to calm, but there is a final outburst at the end.

A flowing melody with brass and strings opens ‘Halo’ by Vlad Maistorovici (b.1985) , full of atmosphere. The brass increase in dominance as the movement gently flows until it increases in complexity and tempo. The brass make an outburst and a gong sounds, whilst there are ruminations in lower strings and the gong sounds again. The music fades before bells introduce a mysterious orchestral sound with slides on strings. The brass, eventually, lead the orchestra upwards again with the sound of bells and percussion, becoming more animated with interjections from woodwind and brass. There is a wonderful swirl of sounds until the music quietens with chimes bringing the piece to an end.

There is not a work on this disc that I would not wish to hear again. Some of the composers I will certainly be looking out for again. François-Xavier Roth and the LSO do these young composers proud on this well recorded CD that is a tribute to both the composers featured and the Panufnik Young Composers Scheme.

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