NIGEL OSBORNE (b.1948): The Piano Tuner: 3 Preludes and 5 Fugues for Piano Trio, Espionage for Solo Violin, Balkan Dances and Laments for Ensemble, 4 Ecological Studies for Piano Zone for Ensemble, My beloved, where are you going? - Song, Adagio for Vedran Smailović for Solo Cello, Preludio y canción for Ensemble.
Catalogue Number: 03U060
Description: Osborne is a fascinating, complicated and multi-faceted character, and this is reflected in the collection of music here, assembled in celebration of his 70th birthday. He has been an aid worker and activist for human rights causes for many years, especially in relation to the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict in the 1990s though beginning with 'cultural resistance' activities in Europe decades earlier. This has left an indelible imprint on his music, which is eclectic in idiom, even within a single piece, deeply felt and not infrequently confrontational. For instance, the large ensemble piece Balkan Dances and Laments alternates unconstrained fury and elegiac melody, drawing on Balkan folk idioms but at times exploding into intense, hammering dissonance in an apparent catharsis of the composer's experience in the region. Like the other works here, there is a sense of stabilising background tonality, but sometimes this is obscured by such modern techniques as the composer deems necessary. This version of The Piano Tuner incorporates field recordings of soundscapes and ethnic instruments (and piano tuning!) as entr'actes between movements to set the scene for its narrative, derived from Osborne's eponymous opera of displacement and the unexpected effects of exposure to the exotic. The haunting Adagio for Vedran Smailović (the 'Cellist of Sarajevo') is similarly prefaced by sound effects and a song. The Ecological Studies, though, are straightforward little piano solos based on Eastern pentatony, and the Preludio y canción is beautifully melodic and modal, based on an opera in progress about spiritual quest that also serves as a protest against child exploitation and trauma. Zone is an elaborate and intricate homage to Soviet film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky and his colleague, the composer Eduard Artemyev, and draws on Artemyev's own multi-ethnic film music. As wide-ranging (geographically, socially and culturally) a collection of pieces as one could wish for. Hebrides Ensemble.