Costello, Sting, Bjork, Monk, Bennett, Sexsmith, Wallen etc

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bennett,Bjork,Costello,Monk,Sexsmith,Sting,Wallen etc
LABELS: Brodsky
ALBUM TITLE: Moodswings
WORKS: One Emotional Girl; I’ve Seen it all
PERFORMER: Elvis Costello, Jacqui Dankworth, Ian Shaw, Sophie Grimmer, Meredith Monk, Richard Rodney Bennett, Bjork, Adey Grummet, Brodsky Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: BRD 3501
Moodswings is the distillation of

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a three-year educational project

intitiated by the Brodsky Quartet,

aimed at getting schoolchildren

to write music for voice and string

quartet. The Brodsky has been this

way before: The Juliet Letters, its 1993

collaboration with Elvis Costello, was

a pioneering effort in composing for

this unusual combination.

Costello surfaces again in this

new collection, contributing the

spiky (klezmer-cum-Shostakovich)

title track and a poignant take on

Randy Newman’s ‘Real Emotional

Girl’. Other big names also feature

– Sting’s typically suave and tasteful

vocal over the Brodsky’s pizzicatobased

accompaniment on ‘Until’ is

one highlight, Björk’s insinuatingly

neurotic ‘I’ve Seen It All’ is another.

The heart of this CD, however, lies

in the teenage contributions (sung by

professionals), which are strikingly

fresh and spontaneous in impact.

‘The Abyss’ (Kate Curtis/Will South),

for instance, convincingly sets the dying

Purcellian fall of its outer framework

against a disturbingly agitated

centre. Humour and wry relational

observations, by contrast, dominate

‘Venus Flytrap’, a jerkily minimalistic

offering by Blatchington Mill School

pupils. Emma Tillyer’s ‘When

Darkness Comes’ (soaring vocal, creepy

quartet noodlings in the undergrowth)

is another standout selection. ‘Crossover

novelty’, I hear you thinking. It isn’t,

though – this is something genuinely

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different. Terry Blain