ROBIN WALKER (b.1949): A Prayer and a Dance of Two Spirits for Recorder, Violin and String Orchestra (Manchester Sinfonia; Richard Howarth), I Thirst (Manchester Camerata String Quartet), Turning Towards You for Double Bass and Piano, The Song of Bone on Stone for Solo Double Bass, His Spirit over the Waters for Solo Cello, A Rune for St Mary’s for Solo Recorder, She took me down to Cayton Bay for Solo Violin.
Catalogue Number: 08V052
Label: Divine Art
Reference: dda 25180
Description: Walker's stunningly original, highly personal idiom, which we first encountered in the powerful tone poems on 06R070 a couple of years ago, is equally evident in these works in smaller forms. He excels at evoking a world of ancient mysteries through the imagery of stone, bone, runes and primitive, looming landscape - just look at his titles - similar preoccupations to those of Birtwistle, whom he admires, but in a far more generally approachable, tonal, style. He finds spirituality in ancient landscapes and stone carvings from antiquity, the meanings of which are now lost; and he practices what he preaches, living on a farm amidst the wild scenery of the Pennine fells in northern England. His immersion in this elemental nature is infused into every bar of his music. The 23-minute double concerto is an in memoriam work for the composer’s parents. In a dream he saw them together in a small boat on a lake, and this somber, tranquil scene is expressed in the elegiac, lyrical grief of the first movement. The second movement comes to terms with this grief in a series of folk-dance-like episodes (invoking some ritual archetype in celebration of ancestral spirits, suggesting Scots or Irish traditions one moment and even the insistence of minimalism the next). The other works all share this very individual approach to the musical expression of spirituality in landscape. The works for contrabass - one evoking a ritual gesture toward the history of stone, the other a memorial piece - are innovatively written, involving extensive harsh and violent snap pizzicati and unorthodox treatment of the registers and harmonics of the instrument (on which the composer took lessons prior to writing The Song ...). The string quartet is gently meditative, full of the composer’s lonely, folk-tinged archaic-sounding melodies, like the other works here, and his characteristically individual treatment of textures and registers, also evident in the solo pieces, especially the passionate transfiguration of the emotions associated with bereavement in the powerful His Spirit..., another memorial work. John Turner (recorder), Emma McGrath (violin), Leon Bosch (double bass), Min-Jung Kym (piano), Jennifer Langridge (violin).