Ferneyhough, Erber, Fox, Dench & Barrett

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Dench & Barrett,Erber,Ferneyhough,Fox
LABELS: NMC
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Tracts
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Ian Pace (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: D 066
Ian Pace has made a name for himself by tackling the thorniest and technically most demanding pieces in the contemporary piano repertoire, and this showcase of some of the pieces he has championed demonstrates how totally at home he is in that rarefied world. Works like Brian Ferneyhough’s diamond-hard Lemma–Icon–Epigram, Chris Dench’s rather sensuously intricate Topologies and the explorations of musical memory in Richard Barrett’s two-part Tract, which Pace himself describes as one of the most demanding piano works ever written, ‘sometimes as if each finger requires a separate brain attached to it’, are right up his street.

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Not all the music here is generated so hermetically: James Erber’s You done torn your playhouse down was inspired by a Thirties blues recording, while Christopher Fox’s lliK.relliK is a tribute to the keyboard style of Jerry Lee Lewis and its roulades of lightning fast repetitions require a different brand of technical mastery. There is the feeling sometimes that the sheer challenge of getting the notes right is taking up too much of his performance, leaving little space for interpretation, and for letting the music breathe naturally. Andrew Clements