MARK BOWDEN (b.1979): Lyra for Cello and Orchestra, Heartland for Percussion and Orchestra, Sudden Light for Orchestra (Oliver Coates [cello], Julian Warburton [percussion], BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Grant Llewellyn), Five Memos for Violin and Piano (Hyeyoon Park [violin], Huw Watkins [piano]).
Catalogue Number: 09S075
Description: Bowden is part of the generation of composers who embrace tradition (of which various strands of 20th century modernism now form a part), and write communicative music that follows no particular school. Lyra is a predominantly tonal work of dancelike energy (dance was an early enthusiasm of the composer's) that draws its title and elements of its dramaturgy from Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' novels and various other cosmological and historical associations. The first movement is full of vitality, the second songlike and richly Romantic in expression with an agitated, propulsive middle section, and the finale pulsates with luminous energy, before an exhausted coda in which the soloist collapses into the depths of detuned scordatura. Percussion and rhythmic drive are important in Bowden's music, and Heartland is both a percussion concerto and a ballet score. The composer revels in the timbral and virtuosic potential of the percussion section in three movements that scintillate and surge with energy and driving momentum. Sudden Light is a tumultuous tone poem that brings together hidden mathematical structures and poetic expressiveness in a grand celebration of creativity, insight and the mysterious mechanisms of the universe. The brief, aphoristic Memos are reflections on essays by Italo Calvino in discursive duos of widely contrasted material.