Flux: New Music – New Dance

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Various composers
LABELS: NMC
ALBUM TITLE: Flux: New Music – New Dance
WORKS: G Higgins: Atomic Café; Bowden: Airs No Oceans Keep; Whitley: Duo for Violin and Viola; Frances-Hoad: The Madness Industry; Quinta: Themistocles is Captured
PERFORMER: Eloisa-Fleur Thom (violin), Quinta (violin, electronics), Asher Zaccardelli (viola); Fidelio Trio; Onyx Brass; Rambert Orchestra/Paul Hoskins
CATALOGUE NO: NMC D232

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As this disc’s excellent sleeve-notes state, there’s ‘nothing very special’ about music for dance. Such works may be born of intense collaboration with a choreographer or emerge from an entirely separate creative process: there is really no strict definition of a dance score. Yet these five richly-varied compositions commissioned over the years by Rambert, the renowned contemporary dance company, feel very special indeed and the disc abounds with a certain vividness of colour and expression.

Gavin Higgins’s Atomic Café for chamber ensemble explores the curious mixture of threat and complacency that surrounded the Cold War’s early years, his arresting score exuding a sardonic wit and deep chill. Mark Bowden’s piano trio Airs No Oceans Keep is a marvellous evocation of water, from light dancing on waves to bristling sea shanties. Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s razor-sharp The Madness Industry for brass quintet snarls and unsettles, performed here with biting wit and precision by Onyx Brass, while Duo for Violin and Viola by Kate Whitley offers a moving blend of grace and force. The disc closes with Quinta’s magical Themistocles is Captured for violin, electronics and the deliciously-strange magnetic resonator piano.

This is a diverse and highly engaging collection of works and, as Rambert’s musical director suggests, listeners should feel welcome to dance in response.

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Kate Wakeling