Powers

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COMPOSERS: Powers
LABELS: Metier
WORKS: Fast Colours; Double Sonata; In Sunlight; Quintet; Another Part of the Island
PERFORMER: Psappha
CATALOGUE NO: MSV CD 92038
This collection of Anthony Powers’s instrumental works moves backwards chronologically. Beginning with the sharp-witted interplay of Fast Colours, written in 1997, it proceeds via the four-instrument Double Sonata of 1993, and the exactly contemporary violin-and-piano imagery of In Sunlight, to end with the elegantly proportioned Quintet of a decade earlier and finally Another Part of the Island, the three-movement exploration of the world of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, that Powers wrote for Maxwell Davies’s group The Fires of London in 1980.

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The later pieces may be more compressed, as Powers has found ways of saying what he wants with fewer notes within more economical time frames, but over that period the essential characteristics of his music have remained constant. There is the fondness for bright, crisp instrumental sonorities, which are rotated at speed (a title like Fast Colours, in both meanings, says it all), the clearly defined thematic ideas, and above all the sense of musical architecture that binds everything in a work together. Powers was a pupil of Nadia Boulanger in Paris, and her insistence on compositional craft left its mark on his music; you always know where you are in one of his pieces, how you got there and how the musical ingredients are related to each other. Andrew Clements