Anderson: Book of Hours; Four American Choruses; Symphony; Imagin’d Corners; Eden

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Book of Hours; Four American Choruses; Symphony; Imagin’d Corners; Eden
PERFORMER: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/Oliver Knussen; City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus/ Simon Halsey; CBSO/Martyn Brabbins
Between 2001 and 2005 Julian


Anderson was composer-inassociation

with the City of

Birmingham Symphony. This

mixture of live and studio recordings

brings together the five works he

produced during his tenure and

makes a neat chronological sequel to

the collection of his works from the

1990s that was released in August

by Ondine. Three are scores for the

orchestra alone – the earliest of them,

Imagin’d Corners, uses the CBSO’s

horn quintet as a concertante group

arrayed around the auditorium,

while both the Symphony (called

that, Anderson revealed, for want

of any more apposite title) and the

Brancusi-inspired Eden are singlemovement

works. The dazzling

Book of Hours, composed for the

Birmingham Contemporary Music

Group, is one of Anderson’s greatest

achievements so far, building from

the simplest beginning – the first

four notes of a major scale – into a

wonderfully rich study of thematic

transformation and texture, coloured

by digitally synthesised haloes of the

instrumental sounds.

Recordings are generally excellent,

with the spatial effects of Imagin’d

Corners nicely evoked; only the

performance of Eden – the premiere

at the 2005 Cheltenham Festival

– occasionally seems a little rough around the edges, but then to my

ears the work itself never quite comes

into focus. On the other hand the

meshing of live electronics with

the bejewelled ensemble writing in

Book of Hours registers much more

effectively here than it did at the

first performance in Birmingham.

Admirers of Anderson’s ever more

assured music shouldn’t hesitate.


Andrew Clements