WORKS: The Girl in my Alphabet; Dervish; Are you worried about the rising cost of funerals?; Louis’ Loops; Horseplay; In Our Lifetime
PERFORMER: Ensemble X/Errollyn Wallen (piano), Continuum Ensemble/Philip Headlam
CATALOGUE NO: AV 0006
In the funky and vivacious pieces chosen for this, her debut CD, Errollyn Wallen presses all the right buttons for a brilliant success. The booklet blurb speaks of ‘not breaking down barriers because we don’t see any’, which sounds quite clever until you think about it. In fact, the sense best left detached is a nose for freshness. There’s not much here that hasn’t turned up many times elsewhere in the market of crossover music.
That said, her work is too affable to be disliked, especially, as in Louis’ Loops, when attached to the cute timbre of the toy piano. Dervish, for cello and piano, works up a contrast between a fast musical idea and a slow one. Fleet music on its own terms is a more infectious ingredient of The Girl in my Alphabet for two pianos, second-hand fabrics stitched into a bright brocade of current idioms.
The ballet Horseplay shows how well she can write different kinds of music on a larger scale, too; but the Five Simple Songs, Are you worried about the rising cost of funerals?, are the best of these offerings, bittersweet miniatures where the gain in artistic presence is surely the dividend of the fact that their artistic boundaries are never in doubt. Nicholas Williams