The Wild Blue Yonder; No-Man’s-Land Lullaby; Shining Gate of Morpheus*; Succubus Moon†
†Nicholas Daniel (oboe), *Richard Watkins (horn), Thomas Bowes (violin), Eleanor Alberga (piano); Ensemble Arcadiana
Navona NV6346 49:32 mins
Eleanor Alberga’s music receives luxury treatment in this album devoted to works composed between 1995 and 2012. Dreams, the subconscious and contemplation of our fragile human state are ever-present, the unfurling emotions and underlying concepts powerfully expressed. The French horn in Shining Gate of Morpheus seems to call to the hunting of dreams, while the sound of the oboe in Succubus Moon bends and stretches and twists in startling ways, creating a suitably oppressive atmosphere for a work that pits darkness – spiritual as well as physical – against light. These works are splendidly performed by the Ensemble Arcadiana, with soloists Richard Watkins and Nicholas Daniel both on excellent form.
Bookending the programme are its two earliest works, both for violin and piano and performed by Thomas Bowes with Alberga herself at the piano. No-Man’s-Land Lullaby is a powerful response to the tragedies of World War I; and The Wild Blue Yonder, explores the idea of arriving in an alien environment. Both receive impassioned, richly colourful accounts.