Wednesday 15 July 2015

A highly attractive new release featuring the Czech Philharmonic Wind Ensemble conducted by Shea Lolin in some remarkable British works for woodwind orchestra from Legni Classics

Twisted Skyscape is a new release of new music for woodwind orchestra from Legni Classics  featuring the Czech Philharmonic Wind Ensemble conducted by Shea Lolin 

There is an interesting video on the making of this new disc available on YouTube as well as a Shea Lolin trailer video on the conductor’s own website

Philip Sparke’s (b.1951) : Overture for Woodwinds was written in 1999 following a commission by the Berkshire Young Musicians Trust. It opens impressively with a rich sonorous motif and develops through some attractively spacious passages, melodic and tonally free. A spiky rhythmic theme emerges that moves the music along at a fine jogging pace, light and buoyant right through to the coda.

Gary Carpenter’s (b.1951) Pantomime was written in 1995 and is in five movements and opens in a subdued dramatic fashion before slowly developing in tempo to a riotously buoyant theme, recalling to an extent jazz and the music of the 1920s. It moves rhythmically forward with contrasting moments of a more reflective nature. There is a most attractive quieter second movement section with a reflective, melancholy oboe theme picked up by bassoon and accompanied by the rest of the ensemble before the third movement brings a moderate flowing tempo with a gentle rhythmic lilt, with more fine orchestration, a lovely use of woodwind band and developing some jazz influences as it progresses. It falls slower towards the end, as well as being reflective with some lovely rich sonorities. The fourth movement takes the opening of Mahler’s fifth symphony on which to base a rich variety of variations, again with a rhythmic jazz style twist, before running into the final waltz movement, inventive and ear catching.

This is a diverse, attractive and highly imaginative score from this fine composer whose BBC commission Dadaville will receive its world premiere with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo at this year’s First Night of the Proms this coming Friday 17th July 2015.

Christopher Hussey’s (b.1974) Dreamtide, written in 2013, rises from a whoosh of hushed wind sound before tentatively moving forward with various combinations of wind instruments bringing a variety of textures and sonorities. The music meanders ahead with its lovely little theme for some time, before a repeated rhythmic motif appears taking the music forward as the theme still emerges elsewhere in the ensemble. Hussey brings a myriad of ideas over the repeated motif before it suddenly stops for a quiet, gentle passage where there is a lovely layering of wind instruments with some beautiful moments as this section gently moves forward. It rises to a little climax before gently continuing, subtly adding an emotional pull before the gentle coda.

In ten sections Adam Gorb’s (b.1958) Battle Symphony, Op.26 (1997) (La Battalia for Woodwind and Saxes) is described as taking a fresh look at the highly fashionable 17th Century battle romps, all fanfares, drum-rolls and martial scrimmaging, a blend of baroque pastiche and something more subversively contemporary. A sprightly little theme for high woodwind opens with a rather archaic sound before picking up in tempo as the ensemble overlay textures and musical lines in a rather fugal section with flourishes from higher winds. There is a slow section with a little marshal motif from the flutes over a richer ground before the tempo picks up with a theme for upper woodwind over a repeated ground for lower wind. A slower mellow section with fine wind sonorities follows, having almost the nature of a lament before a rhythmic dancing motif appears. It builds in textures as the instruments are overlaid until an archaic sounding tune surfaces. It continues with a lovely little Tudor style flute and bassoon tune piece soon taken by the rest of the ensemble including tenor saxophone.  The tempo picks up again as we move to the coda.

This is a particularly attractive work wonderfully performed here.

This new release concludes with another work by Christopher Hussey, the title piece of this disc. Twisted Skyscape, a symphonic tone poem for woodwinds was written in 2008 and presents a story about the ever-changing relationship between man and the natural world he inhabits. The composer tells us that the dramatic journey explores the cycles and patterns of organic forms and their contrast with the linear, constructed elements of a man-made environment.

There is a deep resonant opening from the contrabassoon as the music slowly opens up creating a remarkably rich deep resonant sound. The music rises up through the ensemble with flourishes and motifs from various instruments built around a three note motif that provides a remarkable variety of variations.  Soon the tempo gains a staccato rhythm over which a longer melody is played, the lower winds still occasionally providing a rich bass underlay. There are some highly attractive decorations and flourishes from individual instruments as well as fine textures, timbres and sonorities. Later the music falls to a gentle, quiet play on the three note motif with Hussey creating some quite lovely textures in his choice of instrumental combinations, before leading slowly through richer sonorities to a settled coda.

This is a terrific work that brings a highly effective use of the woodwind ensemble.

This is a highly attractive new release featuring some remarkable works for wind ensemble. Given the terrific sounds that the Czech Philharmonic Wind Ensemble brings to this music we need to hear more from them.

My download reveals a recording of fine detail.

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