COMPOSERS: Knotts; Reeves; Powers; Turnage; Frances-Hoad
LABELS: Prima Facie
ALBUM TITLE: The Long Way Home
WORKS: Knotts: The Long Way Home; Reeves: The Dead Broke Blues; Powers: Piano Trio; Turnage: A fast Stomp; Frances-Hoad: Five Rackets for Trio Relay
PERFORMER: Lawson Trio
CATALOGUE NO: PFC012
This is a brave debut from the Lawson Trio, but a wise one. Not just formidable young musicians, they are questing spirits who have shown a rare commitment to the creation of new music, so it’s right that their first CD boasts no fewer than five premieres of works written for them. These are rich pickings indeed.
I predict a bright future for David Knotts’s scintillating The Long Way Home, inspired by torrential summer rain. Its second movement beautifully captures the wistful sense of time passing evoked in Townsend Warner’s title poem. At just 12 minutes long, it’s a programmer’s dream, though it requires all the sensual subtlety and detail these performers bring. The Dead Broke Blues Break by Camden Reeves makes a pungent contrast; they revel in its witty re-enactment of the deconstructed blues on a cracked record which gradually gathers coherence as it reaches the middle of the vinyl. Turnage’s Fast Stomp covers similar muscular territory, a terrific moto perpetuo belonging to the same world as his recent dance music.
The biggest work, Anthony Powers’s four-movement Piano Trio (2010), is a finely wrought achievement, the kernel of each movement being a dark-hued English folk song. The piece began life as a movement, ‘Ghost’, for the Schubert Ensemble’s Chamber Music 2000 project, which the Lawson Trio has embraced fruitfully.
I’m baffled that Cheryl Frances Hoad’s witty Five Rackets for Trio Relay didn’t win funding for the Cultural Olympiad project: each piece is cleverly tailored to string players of different abilities. It’s fresh and funny.