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Joe Cutler: Hawaii Hawaii Hawaii, etc

Trish Clowes (saxophone); BBC Concert Orchestra/Ben Palmer, et al (BRC/NMC)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Joe Cutler
September Music, Bad Machines, Chorale for Wim Megens, Hawaii Hawaii Hawaii*
*Trish Clowes (saxophone), *BBC Concert Orchestra/Ben Palmer; Orkest de Ereprijs/Wim Boerman
BRC BRC010   44:20 mins


Hawaii Hawaii Hawaii (2019), the title track to Joe Cutler’s latest release for NMC, is a resplendent, witty and otherworldly saxophone concerto, expertly performed here by its commissioners – the BBC Concert Orchestra and soloist Trish Clowes. The piece is a loose setting of David Mitchell’s dystopian story ‘An Orison of Sonmi~451’ from the novel Cloud Atlas, charting the awakening of the young protagonist as she realises there might be more to life than working as an enslaved fast-food waitress incentivised by holidaying holograms. The breathy first movement recalls Tōru Takemitsu, while the energetic, game-show conveyor-belt second movement is Gershwinian in its colour. Clowes demonstrates a deep understanding of Cutler’s fascinating musical language throughout – particularly in the sticky, darkly resonant third movement.

Elsewhere, the Orkest de Ereprijs performs three earlier works – the deliciously spiky September Music (2009), Bad Machine (2001, majoring in pianistic and percussive flourishes) and Chorale for Wim Megens (2008), written for the ensemble’s founding conductor. The odd cough and splutter heard in the background serves as a reminder that all four works are live performances. Listening in 2020, the shuffles and snuffles imbue humanity into an intriguing and finely wrought collection.


Claire Jackson