COMPOSERS: Colin Matthews,Crosse,Finnissy,Goehr,Smalley & Turnage
LABELS: NMC Artists
WORKS: Music by Crosse, Finnissy, Goehr, Colin Matthews, Smalley & Turnage
PERFORMER: Alexander Baillie (cello)Andrew Ball (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: NMC D019 DDD
This is a very impressive disc, in effect an anthology of recent music for cello by British composers. The invaluable NMC once again concentrates on an area of contemporary music that could all too easily be passed over; it also continues to maintain an extremely high level of technical competence.
The sound balance is immensely pleasing on the ear – with no snorts, sniffs or heavy breathing. A whole disc of contemporary cello music could be daunting, but Alexander Baillie’s choice of composers and works is wonderfully illuminating, showing the slightly older generation of Alexander Goehr and Gordon Crosse, the middle generation of Colin Matthews, Michael Finnissy and Roger Smalley, and finally Mark-Anthony Turnage. Turnage’s Sleep on… (1992) is passionate and tender, a far cry from the aggressiveness of his opera Greek.
Its central movement for unaccompanied cello would alone make this disc worth buying without the interest of Finnissy’s Doves Figary (1976-7) gently ‘worrying’ a folk tune, or Smalley’s ‘live’ electronics in Echo II (1979). Goehr’s Sonata, although chromatically more intense, suggests the sound-worlds of Debussy and Schoenberg, while Crosse assimilates a sea-shanty in his Wavesongs. Baillie’s sound is beautifully focused and Andrew Ball provides a highly sympathetic accompaniment. Annette Morreau