Ferneyhough: Fun´railles I & II; Bone Alphabet; Unsichtbare Farben

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COMPOSERS: Ferneyhough
LABELS: Stradivarius
ALBUM TITLE: Ferneyhough
WORKS: Fun´railles I & II; Bone Alphabet; Unsichtbare Farben
PERFORMER: Ensemble Recherche; Arditti Quartet; Christian Dierstein (percussion)
This second Ferneyhough disc from


Ensemble Recherche includes the first

recording of Unsichtbare Farben for

solo violin, alongside the much earlier

Funérailles for harp and strings, for

Sandrine Piau and Hervé Lamy

capture the mood both of each song

and the whole project, from the

desolation of Debussy’s ‘Le tombeau

des Naïades’ to Saint-Saëns’ upbeat

duet ‘Viens!’. In Schoonderwoerd’s

hands, the less ‘pure’ tuning of

the 1907 Erard’s upper register

shimmers like dust in sunlight,

while De Talhouët’s wooden flutes

are bewitching. Christopher Dingle


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? BBC Music Direct £13.99 inc. p&p

which members of the ensemble team

up with the Arditti String Quartet.

Ensemble Intercontemporain’s first

recording is currently unavailable,

but this new version surpasses it

for grit, detail, and sonic image.

Funérailles refers to an imaginary

ritual glimpsed from afar, and the

way in which the harp punctuates

the strings’ held notes and outbursts

(especially in the second of the two

movements) certainly has something

of a ritual’s spellbinding quality about

it. It’s the richness of detail that first

strikes the listener unaccustomed

to Ferneyhough’s idiom, making

Funérailles a good introduction.

The violin piece is rather more

demanding, but Irvine Arditti’s

characteristically astringent tone is

matched by a sure sense of pacing,

making the work’s 13 minutes seem

rather shorter. But perhaps the

most approachable work here is the

delightfully inventive Bone Alphabet,

for seven ‘unpitched’ percussion

instruments, in which Ferneyhough’s

complex metrical patterns are allowed

to unwind into playful, rockinghorse

rhythms. Though the detail is

less satisfying than Stephen Schick’s

recording for Neuma (particularly at

the higher end of the dynamic level),

the sounds chosen by percussionist

Christian Dierstein are captivating.

All in all, a valuable and worthwhile