Sensations of Travel (Nigel Osborne)

Hebrides Ensemble (Delphian)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Nigel Osborne
The Piano Tuner; Espionage: Three Miniature Sonatas; Balkan Dances and Laments; Ecological Studies; My beloved, here are you going? etc.
Hebrides Ensemble
Delphian DCD34198   70:28 mins


This outstanding album brims with atmosphere and imagination, showcasing exceptional chamber works from British composer Nigel Osborne all performed with rare verve by the Hebrides Ensemble. Osborne has balanced a successful career as a composer with extensive humanitarian work, notably in Bosnia during the Balkans War and more recently in Syria. While Osborne’s modernist scores are uncompromising in their technical rigour, his music is nonetheless intensely human, radiating warmth, colour and emotion.

Balkan Dances and Laments (2001) for oboe, piano and string trio recollects Osborne’s travels in the region. Drawing on traditional Bosnian music, the work darts between furtive aggression and delicate lamentation, and features some particularly beautiful playing from oboist Rachael Clegg. More cryptic forms of musical ‘travel’ also feature, including The Piano Tuner (2004) for piano trio which explores the themes of Daniel Mason’s beguiling novel (of the same name) set in Southeast Asia in the late 19th century. By turns ferocious, mysterious and elegiac, these eight preludes and fugues are heard here with additional sounds recorded by Osborne himself in India and Thailand, capturing the song of cicadas, nightjars and the ocean which all teeter in and out of
earshot as the work unfolds. More stories unfurl in Espionage for solo violin, a mesmerising series of sketches for a forthcoming film-opera about the Cambridge spies, performed with poise and drama by violinist Zoë Beyers. Other works explore Hindu scripture (Preludio y canción), water birds (Ecological Studies) and Tarkovsky’s sci-fi masterpiece Stalker (Zone) to complete this invigorating disc.


Kate Wakeling