Anderson: Alhambra Fantasy; The Stations of the Sun; The Crazed Moon; Khorovod; Diptych

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LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Alhambra Fantasy; The Stations of the Sun; The Crazed Moon; Khorovod; Diptych
PERFORMER: BBC SO, London Sinfonietta/Oliver Knussen
Amazingly enough this is the first disc devoted to Julian Anderson’s music. Though this album has been a long time coming – the recordings date from 2000 and 2001 and were originally intended for a Deutsche Grammophon release – it provides a wonderfully convincing survey of the early development of one of the most important British composers of his generation. The earliest piece here is Diptych, which Anderson completed in 1990 when he was 23 and still studying at Cambridge University, while the most recent is Alhambra Fantasy, a commission from the London Sinfonietta that seems just as dazzling now as it did when it received its first performance in 2001.


Anderson’s confidence in handling and shaping his musical material and his wonderfully precise ear for instrumental colour have been constants in his music, as have his widely varied influences – from French spectralist composers like Grisey and Murail whose techniques inform the second part of the Diptych, to the east European folk traditions that give such energy to Khorovod, finished in 1994. The big orchestral canvases, the genuinely disquieting The Crazed Moon (1997) and The Stations of the Sun (1998), show Anderson’s priceless gift for making complex formal shapes totally lucid. Oliver Knussen’s beautifully integrated performances with both the BBC Symphony and the Sinfonietta help inestimably too, and the detail in the recordings is always faithful to Anderson’s fastidious sensibility. Andrew Clements