STEPHEN GOSS (b.1964): The Flower of Cities for 2 Guitars, Violin, Double Bass and Percussion, PHILLIP HOUGHTON (1954-2017): The Light on the Edge for 2 Guitars, Harp, Double Bass and Percussion.
Catalogue Number: 03T076
Label: JCW Recordings
Description: Two contrasting works by guitarist-composers that have in common a strong grounding in tonality and a high degree of approachability and enjoyability - as well as being superbly well written for the guitars, of course. Welsh composer Goss based his six-movement suite with linking cadenzas for solo instruments on the idea of a kind of musical 'map' of the City of London, with its many, unexpected and beautiful parks, squares, churchyards and gardens, many of considerable antiquity and historical significance. The work overall is in an attractive vein of the English pastoral, with great character and evocations of the bustling city and its bridges and the oases of calm in between, incorporating street cries, church bells, a local ballad from the 17th century, and plenty of local color. The Australian Houghton was something of an outsider throughout his career, though an immensely talented and multifaceted one - a "tall poppy" in Australian parlance (they stand above, and are more susceptible to be cut down than, the average crops in the field). The Light on the Edge is accordingly difficult to classify. 'Inspired by Mother Earth (Gaia)' and the wonders of nature, one might assume a kind of hippie, new-age work, and indeed the rhythmic pulse of several episodes suggest a degree of derivation from folk-rock music. But there's more to the piece than this suggests. Two movements have optional recorded ambient natural sounds, and the original version featured a didgeridoo (omitted, per the composer's later preference, but suggested in the double bass part). The result is hugely enjoyable, less fully 'classical' than the Goss, atmospheric and lively. John Williams (guitar) w/ensemble; Thomas Carroll.