Edmund Finnis: The Air, Turning; Elsewhere, etc

Various Artists (NMC)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Edmund Finnis
The Air, Turning; Elsewhere; Parallel Colour; Between Rain; Four Duets; Shades Lengthen
Mark Simpson (clarinet), Eloisa-Fleur Thom, Benjamin Beilman (violin), Víkingur Ólafsson (piano); London Contemporary Orchestra/Robert Ames; Britten Sinfonia/Andrew Gourley; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov; Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/Richard Baker
NMC NMC D249   70:39 mins

The music of Edmund Finnis invites rather than demands attention – and the more it is given, the more its gifts unfold. Born in 1984, Finnis has an almost synaesthetic ability to paint delicate yet robust, translucent sonic worlds that combine broad, brush-stroke gestures with tiny nuances of sound. Each work on this exquisite debut disc is, in effect, a constantly changing prism in which surface and depth are revealed in tactile, mutual oscillation. The opening title track, The Air, Turning – written for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor Ilan Volkov – aptly describes the whole as it does this shimmering score.

Where does Parallel Colour stop and Between Rain begin? The former is cast in seven, beautifully sculpted sections around a central double bass (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conductor Richard Baker) while the latter hints at darkness underlying its subtle string tensions (London Contemporary Orchestra, Robert Ames). Shades Lengthen (Britten Sinfonia, Andrew Gourlay, with violinist Benjamin Beilman) completes a beguiling quartet of larger ensemble pieces. Captivating, too, is Four Duets, in which clarinettist Mark Simpson and pianist Víkingur Ólafsson ebb and flow in lovely circles – while Eloisa-Fleur Thom’s breathtaking solo violin takes the listener Elsewhere indeed.

Steph Power