ERROLLYN WALLEN (b.1958): Cello Concerto, Photography (Matthew Sharp [cello], Orchestra X; Nicholas Kok), Hunger (The Continuum Ensemble, Ensemble X; Philip Headlam), In Earth (Tim Harries [bass guitar], Quartet X, Errollyn Wallen [voice]).
Catalogue Number: 05R072
Description: The Belize-born, New York (in dance) and UK-educated (in music) and UK domiciled composer is considerably more genre-defying than even this eclectic background would suggest. She draws on many types of music for inspiration, with the idea of communicating with as wide a range of music lovers as possible; there is a great deal of tonality in her idiom, not surprisingly, and an avoidance of the avant-gardism that dominated her musical training, though she is not averse to modern techniques. The concerto is a very neo-romantic work overall, beginning with a blisteringly virtuosic cadenza that takes up almost the first five minutes of the work; but when its material turns to something like popular or folk melody, it starts to sound suspiciously like a 'classical' transcription of something at the rock end of the musical spectrum. Then a neo-baroque episode emerges, then back to pastoral Romantic Englishness. Hunger, an in memoriam piece, is a large-scale, dark-hued symphonic tone poem full of insistent rhythms, a ponderous and brooding rite of - not so much spring, maybe a post-apocalyptic winter. The four short movements that make up Photography form a kind of neo-baroque suite, with elements of minimalism and rather Brittenesque harmonies, while Laid in Earth showcases the 'alternative', unclassifiable side of the composer. Out of a fog of distorted electronic chaos the quartet slowly emerges, increasingly recognisably playing Dido's Lament; then the composer's voice performs a pure, affecting version of Purcell's aria.