Endymion: Sound Census

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Baille,Bainbridge,Butler,Cashian,Cowie,Duddell,Elias,Fox,Fujikura etc
LABELS: NMC
WORKS: British Chamber Music by Baille, Bainbridge, Butler, Cashian, Cowie, Duddell, Elias, Fox, Fujikura etc
PERFORMER: Endymion/Quentin Poole
CATALOGUE NO: NMC D160

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It is typical of Endymion, that marvellous champion of new (and old) chamber music, that the ensemble’s 30th birthday prompted no retrospective but a look to the future.

Sound Census is a collection of newly commissioned works from 22 British composers, ranging from long-established figures like Maxwell Davies and Bainbridge, to talented young voices such as Joana Bailie and Naomi Pinnock.

The pieces are mostly about five minutes long, though Dai Fujikura’s diaphanous Inkling for solo trumpet and Colin Matthews’s Scherzetto are barely half that, while the quixotic currents of Edward Cowie’s Magma Psalm push 10 minutes.

Several of these miniatures suspend notions of passing time, not least Melinda Maxwell’s hauntingly beautiful Singla Rock, and the mesmerising timbral transformations of A Study in Daylight by Christopher Fox. Others, like James Weeks’s The Peckham Harmony, are joyously forthright.

Philip Venables’s Fight Music opens in similarly feisty manner, but, when the rage is exhausted, a defiant cello line belies the composer’s description of the work as ‘absurdist cartoon horror’ to create a moving conclusion.

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It almost goes without saying that the Endymion players are first-rate advocates for these works. Like the The NMC Songbook, there is a diversity of approach from composers young and not so young here, suggesting British music is in a state of vibrant health. Christopher Dingle