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Alexander Goehr • Colin Matthews • Anna Meredith: Chamber Works

Aurora Orchestra; Nash Ensemble/Martyn Brabbins, et al (NMC)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Alexander Goehr • Colin Matthews • Anna Meredith
Anna Meredith: Tripotage Miniatures*; Alexander Goehr: after ‘The Waking’**; Colin Matthews: Postludes^
Aurora Orchestra*; Nash Ensemble/Martyn Brabbins**; Nicholas Daniel^ (oboe); Britten Sinfonia^
NMC NMC D239   52:14 mins


Each of the three works presented here were recorded live at London’s Wigmore Hall over three different concerts spanning 2016-19, creating something of an ultimate chamber music event.

Anna Meredith is perhaps the only composer to have their music regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. But this isn’t just a pleasing PR titbit; Meredith’s style doesn’t fit into a particular category. Tripotage Miniatures (2016) begins with her trademark repetitive polyphonic melodies; horn and clarinet scurry alongside each other, following similar but misaligned paths, like competing cross-country runners. The interior movements also have a sense of push-pull, intensified by the stop-start use of melody, such as the cor anglais solo in the fourth movement, ‘Buzzard’. Aurora Orchestra expertly handles the cross-rhythms and changing time signatures. Throughout, we hear some of the ideas explored in Meredith’s experimental electronic music; ‘Majolica’ contains several crunchy drops.

Alexander Goehr’s after ‘The Waking’ (2016-17) brings a change of aesthetic. Scored for violin, clarinet, horn, bassoon and double bass, this is a reworking of a vocal piece written for baritones on a poem by Theodore Roethke. The Schoenbergian melodic language is beautifully realised by the Nash Ensemble. While Goehr’s combination of instruments is unorthodox, Colin Matthews’s is more distinctive: Postludes (2017-18) is for oboe quartet plus string quartet. Soloist Nicholas Daniel evokes the grief that imbues this music (the piece is dedicated to the late Oliver Knussen). There are moments of unsettled itchiness, notably in the third movement.


Claire Jackson