ERROLLYN WALLEN (b.1958): Concerto Grosso, JAMES B. WILSON (b.19??): The Green Fuse, DANIEL KIDANE (b.1986): Dream Song (Roderick Williams [baritone]), HANNAH KENDALL (b.1984): The Spark Catchers, PHILIP HERBERT (b.19??): Elegy - In Memoriam Stephen Lawrence, JULIAN JOSEPH (b.1966): Carry That Sound.

Catalogue Number: 03V066

Label: NMC

Reference: D250

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: This disc is a breath of fresh air. Diverse, accessible works of the highest quality by six young British composers writing emotionally communicative, intelligent, individual music in a tonal idiom. All have had successes in the London Proms, on the BBC and so on, and here are championed by the enterprising Chineke! Orchestra, founded to promote ethnic and cultural diversity in the British ‘classical' music world. Wallen's four-movement Concerto Grosso is a modern take on the Baroque form, with a thoroughly modern concertante group of piano, violin and contrabass. The nearest thing to this in the literature is probably Bloch's Concerti Grossi, but Wallen introduces a flavour of jazz spice here and there, and minimalist propulsion in the third movement, with its rippling, high-energy Glassian arpeggios. You can hear the Baroque palimpsest behind the intricate, bright modern surface - Corelli and Vivaldi scores overpainted by Roy Lichtenstein. The first movement is exhilarating and effervescent, full of dancing rhythms; the second a dark-hued lament, suddenly interrupted by an unexpectedly vehement moment of climactic passion; the third a scherzo; and the finale an energetic toccata with an urban pulse and groove. Wilson's tone poem is inspired by Dylan Thomas' evocative image of the wild, explosive energy of Spring. The music conjures images of a burgeoning life force, of seedlings thrusting toward the light, but like Thomas' poem the music is grounded in melancholy contemplation amidst the grandeur of nature. In Dream Song, Kidane sets excerpts from MLK Jr's "I have a Dream" speech in a journey from darkness to light. Agitated mechanistic, military fanfares open the work, and the chorus weaves an eerie backdrop to the opening words. Little by little the music accumulates powerful, churning energy in a turbulent middle section, finally arriving at a hard-won conclusion. Kendall's The Spark Catchers was inspired by the "wonderful dynamism, vibrancy and drive" of Lemn Sissay’s "incredibly evocative" eponymous poem. The piece explodes with kinetic energy and drive, while a contrasting slow section has a mysterious iridescent gleam. Herbert's moving, gentle Elegy for the London teenager murdered in a racist attack in 1993 has not a little in common with Barber's Adagio, and similarly speaks eloquently of profound sorrow. Joseph's background is jazz, and his delightful piece ingeniously incorporates the warm harmonies of jazz in a jaunty urban-propulsive orchestral introduction and a 'big-band'-style closing section which bracket an extended blues sequence that explicitly pays tribute to Gershwin. Chineke! Orchestra and Chorus; Anthony Parnther, Kevin John Edusei, Wayne Marshall.

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