ANTHONY PAYNE (b.1936): Phoenix Mass for Chorus and Brass Ensemble (BBC Singers, Philip Jones Brass Ensemble; John Poole), Paean for Piano (Susan Bradshaw), The World's Winter for Soprano and Ensemble (Jane Manning [soprano], The Nash Ensemble; Lionel Friend), Horn Trio (Jane's Minstrels).
Catalogue Number: 07P068
Description: This disc is a valuable reissue of three early works, from the 1970s, never previously available on CD, plus the 2006 Horn Trio. The Mass is Payne's earliest acknowledged work, started in 1965, when he was searching for a way to reconcile his somewhat neo-romantic tendencies with the prevailing modernism of the times. Eschewing the extremes of the Darmstadt philosophy, Payne borrows mediæval devices in a manner reminiscent of Maxwell Davies, and some suggestion of choral textures from Britten, in a tautly organised, harmonically pungent idiom that clearly prefigures his fully mature style. Paean's three movements explore number-based formulations - initially atonal - that give way to more free explorations of traditional pianistic textures and techniques. The Tennyson diptych also contains elements of serial organization, with the soaring vocal line accompanied by an intricately detailed ensemble texture which responds with organic freedom to the potent imagery of the poems. The trio is in many ways very different, though it remains tightly organised, though now in a manner more reminiscent of late Sibelius, with a correspondingly closer approach to tonality in the harmony generated by the tautly contrapuntal interplay between instrumental lines.