WORKS: Spring Songs; Mots justes (excerpts); Nodus; Letters to the World
PERFORMER: Alison Wells (soprano), John Turner (recorder), Philip Edwards (clarinet), George Nicholson, Peter Lawson (piano), Keith Elcombe (harpsichord), Jonathan Price (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: MSV CD 92062
Metier’s policy of providing platforms for composers deserving of a wider audience finds worthy cause in the music of George Nicholson. Born in 1949, Nicholson is senior lecturer in composition at Sheffield University. He is an expert pianist, who not only writes fluently for his own instrument, but also extends his concern for grateful yet challenging instrumental writing to everything that he composes.
In the diaphanous Spring Songs, this talent works in symbiosis with John Turner’s virtuoso command of the treble recorder. Simple melody and complex overtone chords are combined in these five engaging miniatures. More veiled in reference, ‘For Miles’, ‘Sung without words’ and ‘In accord’ of Mots justes, played with intimate understanding by pianist Peter Lawson, clearly belong to a line of instrumental works stretching back to the earliest item in this collection, the clarinet and piano duo of 1978, Nodus. The ideal here is clearly some kind of dramatic schema, yet the rhetoric remains personal and dreamlike.
Perhaps the more elusive of the Emily Dickinson texts chosen for Letters to the World form the ideal medium for a composer noted for his sensitivity to literary stimulus. The ensemble of soprano, recorder, cello and harpsichord is both apt and intriguing. Nicholas Williams