Payne: A Day in the Life of a Mayfly; Evening Land; Symphonies of Wind and Rain; The Song Streams in the Firmament; Paraphrases and Cadenzas

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COMPOSERS: Payne
LABELS: NMC
WORKS: A Day in the Life of a Mayfly; Evening Land; Symphonies of Wind and Rain; The Song Streams in the Firmament; Paraphrases and Cadenzas
PERFORMER: Jane Manning (soprano) Jane’s Minstrels/Roger Montgomery
CATALOGUE NO: D056
After the success of Anthony Payne’s magisterial elaboration of the sketches for Elgar’s Third Symphony, this collection of vocal and ensemble pieces comes as a timely reminder of the virtues of his own music. Payne has always been a distinctive creative voice, never adopting styles or techniques just because they were fashionable; his loving knowledge of English music of the first half of this century – Delius, Vaughan Williams and Bax – has always had just as important a place in his language as serialism and its legacy.

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Over the years the edges of Payne’s music have softened. Even his titles signify the shift, from the earliest piece here, the structurally descriptive Paraphrases and Cadenzas of 1969, to the impressionistic implications of the most recent, Symphonies of Wind and Rain, completed in 1991. However, what has remained constant throughout is the careful planning, the lucid thematic organisation, and the tension he creates between music that seems to have an improvisatory freedom and material that is much more strictly organised. The centrepiece of this collection is the 1981 song cycle Evening Land, settings of poems by the Swedish Per Lagerkvist – rapt and emotionally direct music that traces out an elegant, balanced arch across all nine songs. Andrew Clements