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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Kairos
WORKS: Stimmen; Face de la chaleur; Quartet for four percussionists; Dort ist das Meer
PERFORMER: Eva Furrer (flute), Ernesto Molinari (clarinet), Marino Formenti (piano); Cologne Percussion Quartet, SWR Vocal Ensemble Stuttgart/Rupert Huber; Vienna Concert Choir, Vienna RSO/Beat Furrer
At the age of 47 Beat Furrer is a major European voice, yet one whose music remains almost unknown in the English-speaking world. This impressive second collection of his music on Kairos concentrates largely on works from the Nineties – only the choral and orchestral Dort ist das Meer, based upon a text by Pablo Neruda, dates from the previous decade, and that seems far less personal in style when compared with the later pieces.


The best entry point to Furrer’s highly detailed and refined musical world is provided here by Face de la chaleur (1991), in which solo flute, clarinet and piano sustain a wispy, fugitive stream of sound over a rumbling orchestral comment. If, at first hearing, Stimmen, for 32 voices and four percussionists from 1999 (which sets, or rather atomises, a text by Leonardo da Vinci), and its companion piece the Quartet for four percussionists from 1995, are more refractory, their textures more fragmented, there is still the same impression of fastidious organisation creating a music that is intensely fragile, and which is constantly punctuated by silence and could be overwhelmed by it at any moment. A fascinating introduction, then, to a distinctive composer; if only the extensive booklet notes could have been more adequately translated into English. Andrew Clements