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Anna Clyne: Mythologies album review

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop, Sakari Oramo, Andrew Litton, Andre de Ridder, et al (Avie)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Anna Clyne
Mythologies – Masquerade**; This Midnight Hour^; The Seamstress*; Night Ferry^^; <<rewind<<***
*Jennifer Koh (violin), *Irene Buckley (voice); BBC Symphony Orchestra/**Marin Alsop, *^Sakari Oramo, ^^Andrew Litton and ***Andre de Ridder
Avie AV2434   66:36 mins


Anna Clyne’s Masquerade was first heard at the 2013 Last Night of the Proms and, since then, a snippet has become familiar in Proms adverts across the BBC. Wildly exuberant, the piece suited its celebratory purpose to a T – and its live recording does likewise in opening this album of show-stopping orchestral works, written over a ten-year period.

They are performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under an array of conductors, Marin Alsop at the helm for that dazzling premiere. Sakari Oramo takes the baton with similarly tempestuous results for This Midnight Hour (2015) and The Seamstress(2014), a violin concerto-cum-‘imaginary one-act ballet’ for which the passionate soloist is Jennifer Koh, joined by narrator Irene Buckley. Bursting with kaleidoscopic textures from which folk-like melodies emerge, both works follow Clyne’s first ever orchestral piece Night Ferry (2012, conductor Andrew Litton) in being part-inspired by poems. Indeed the album title Mythologies is taken from a Yeats poem narrated in a section of The Seamstress which reveals Clyne at her most lyrically affecting.

The nocturnal works share its ambivalent mood. This Midnight Hour is the tauter by far, propelled by Baudelaire’s narcotic ‘Harmonie du soir’ and a striking image of Jiménez’s that depicts music as a naked woman running crazily through the ‘pure night’. While swashbuckling seascapes form another link between works, <<rewind<< (2005, conductor André de Ridder) references Clyne’s longtime interest in electronics. Here, videotape is imagined being scrolled backwards, glitching dramatically as it goes.


Steph Power