Burrell, Poole, Sackman

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COMPOSERS: Burrell,Poole,Sackman
WORKS: Concerto for Piano and 21 Loud Instruments; Gold
PERFORMER: Philip MeadRNCM Brass EnsembleJames Gourlay
Lucifer may have bagged the headline on this new disc, but the presiding angel is Philip Mead, a cornet-playing pianist who finds his wings beating in two camps. How, he wonders – Xenakis’s Eonta aside – to bridge a repertoire gulf when it comes to combining brass and piano? The answer: a judicious spot of commissioning. Anchored by Mead’s muscular, formidable pianism, three very different solutions are showcased here. Lucifer, Geoffrey Poole’s four-movement ‘Concerto for Piano and 21 Loud Instruments’, is the largest-scaled of the three: a musical theatre bristling with everything from a portentously Messiaenic Ezekial to the louche landscapes of New Babylon, from a corruscating deconstructed tango for Adam and Eve to the plainsong ‘Dies irae’. This is uncomfortable music, sometimes squirming in its own skin, its dark comedy capable of laughing with as well as at. It’s the perfect foil to the glistering metallic sheen (concealing a delicate contemplative undertow) of Diana Burrell’s Gold, and the vivid, twitchy, discursive circularities of Nicholas Sackman’s Meld. The performances, under James Gourly’s alert direction, are exemplary – the RNCM Brass Ensemble at the top of its game. Paul Riley