MARK SIMPSON (b.1988): Night Music (Leonard Elschenbroich [cello], Alexei Grynyuk [piano]), Ariel for Basset Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano (Mercury Quartet), Barkham Fantasy (Richard Uttley [piano]), Echoes and Embers (Mark Simpson [clarinet], Vikingur Ólafsson [piano]), Lov(escape) (Simpson [clarinet], Ian Buckle [piano]), Un Regalo (Guy Johnston [cello]), Windflower (Nicholas Daniel [oboe]), Nur Musik (Jonathan Small [oboe], Ensemble 10/10; Clark Rundell).
Catalogue Number: 07S081
Description: Simpson is a good example of the gifted younger generation of British composers now emerging into maturity free of dogma and the constraints of composing in any particular 'school'. His music is expressive and evocative, frequently inspired by poetic or other extramusical sources, harmonically rich and not shying away from tonal processes in a freely extended sense. Night Music, a virtuosic cello and piano duo, is typical of his style; atmospherically conjuring dream states, a hectic nightmare pursuit and an emotionally overwhelming climax. Ariel is a musical response to Sylvia Plath's complex, multilayered late poem, mixing metaphor, dark imagery, tangible physicality and psychological turmoil. Strained harmonies evoke the latter; the energy of the horse ride into the rising sun is present in propulsive rhythms in the later part of the piece. Barkham Fantasy is a rather neo-romantic fantasia for piano suggesting a programme like an M.R. James ghost story, while Echoes and Lov(escape) explore the expressive and technical capabilities of Simpson's own instrument, the clarinet, in music of strong contrasts. Nur Musik is a miniature oboe concerto, pitting the soloist's attempts to sustain a singing melodic line against turbulent, menacing mechanisms generated by the ensemble.