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WORKS: After the Rain
PERFORMER: City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
The enterprising NMC record label was set up to record new music (thanks to the royalties from the Holst Estate), and the contemporary composers chosen reflect the widely varying styles of music today. Barry Guy is a musician who covers much ground, whether it be as a virtuoso double bass player in his own free-jazz ensembles, as one of Britain’s finest Baroque bass performers, or as a composer.


After the Rain dates from 1992 and was a commission from the City of London Sinfonia. The work takes its name from a painting by Max Ernst, Europe After the Rain. Guy’s writing is eclectic, reflecting the various different musical worlds he inhabits. The titles of the ten short sections – Refrain, Chorale, Antiphon, Canon, and Chanson – reveal an interest in Renaissance music, while the Motet is set in Renaissance style. The Refrain and Antiphon sections recur during the piece, the Antiphon using a particularly striking effect of slow, downward, tremolo glissandi. The Chorale owes much to Shostakovich in its use of darkly melancholic tonal chords. From the world of free-improvisation, Guy brings frenetically scampering agitated textures in passages which are perhaps too prolonged in this context. Richard Hickox delivers deft performances in an admirably balanced recording. Annette Morreau