GARY CARPENTER (b.1951): SET - Concerto for Tenor Saxophone and Orchestra, Love’s Eternity for Mezzo-Soprano an Orchestrra, Dadaville, Fred and Ginger, Willie Stock.
Catalogue Number: 05U068
Reference: NI 6380
Description: Like the ensemble pieces that we offered an incomprehensibly long time ago (09J079), these orchestral works sparkle with wit, quirky humour, unpredictability, immaculate craftsmanship and effortless transitions across history and genres. SET is a five-movement concerto, which treats the orchestra in big-band style, with toe-tapping jazz numbers. The movements take their inspiration from 1950s television, including (typically of the composer) a variety show that was broadcast but of which no trace remains on celluloid, video or paper. This elicits a kind of post-minimalist piece of jazz. Elsewhere, a pitch-perfect noir film scene from a moody but unsuccessful advertising campaign and a lively dance floor number for a puppet show by the (later) creator of "Thunderbirds". Carpenter has a serious side, though. Willie Stock was his uncle, killed at age 25 in WW I. His memorial is a tone-poem of great depth and solemnity, with not a little in common with Berg - including being riddled with cyphers. Also indebted to Romanticism, but with very different results, is the song cycle to texts by Elisabeth Barrett Browning, about love but heavily overshadowed by death. Both Fred and Ginger and Dadaville (after Max Ernst's eccentric cork and plaster sculpture) treat their subjects to a surreal homage that (inevitably) winds up by morphing into a vigorously rhythmic climax (and a final brilliant blink-and-you'll-miss-it joke at the very end of Dadaville). Iain Bellamy (sax), Kathryn Rudge (mezzo), Rotal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Clark Rundell, Andrew Manze (Willie Stock).