DAVID SAWER (b.1961): From Morning to Midnight - Symphonic Suite, the greatest happiness principle (BBC Symphony Orchestra; Martyn Brabbins), Tiroirs (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; Susanna Mälkki), The Memory of Water for 2 Violins and 11 Solo Strings (BCMG; Brabbins).
Catalogue Number: 06I131
Description: Sawer's attractive and sophisticated compositions epitomize musical wit and (frequently rather ironic) humor at their best, while simultaneously displaying a craftsman's skill in the construction of musical devices that function flawlessly, often driven by hidden mechanisms. The composer's basic material is predominantly tonal, as often as not in a sense that Debussy (for instance; Sawer's colorful and atmospheric orchestration in From Morning irresistibly suggests early 20th-century France at times) would have had no problem with. Sometimes building textures based on repeated cells based on, once again, very recognizable chords and the relationships between them (not quite minimalism, but with a similarly lively, propulsive effect), these works share a sense of clever, surface activity and sparkle, with distinctly disturbing currents flowing beneath (as for instance in the greatest happiness principle, whose busy, bustling protagonists are prisoners, self-regulating on account of a surveillance system which could be watching any or all of them, all the time. The balance between minimalistic machine and Shostakovichian irony here is perfectly struck.