Six Degrees of Separation
S Conner: Hymn to a Head; C Drew: See Slow Blue; PJ Jones: The Fun Will Never End; C McCormack: Silver Traces; E-K Matthews: Remote Overlap; A Paxton: Dadd’s Fairies
Members of the London Symphony Orchestra/Darren Bloom
NMC NMCDL3046 (digital only) 36:25 mins
The pandemic struck at a particularly cruel time for these six emerging composers embarking on the LSO Panufnik Scheme. With typical creative flair, the scheme’s director Colin Matthews devised a new project in response: each composer would write a short ensemble piece to be performed and recorded under lockdown conditions.
The resulting works fizz with creative energy. Patrick John Jones’s The Fun Will Never End is an intricate, nervy dance that slips constantly between the playful and sinister with deadpan wit. In See Slow Blues, Christian Drew takes inspiration from the music of American indie rock band Yo La Tengo, conjuring their ‘lazy, ambling slide guitars’ into a glorious, woozy hymn to slowing down.
Emma-Kate Matthews creates an affecting sense of space and emotional longing in her glistening Remote Overlap while Chris McCormack’s Silver Traces pits strings and percussion in eerie opposition to create a work of spellbinding intensity. Stef Conner’s bold Hymn to a Head makes rich use of brass quintet to explore the world of Moby Dick, and the disc closes with Alex Paxton’s deliciously trippy Dadd’s Fairies: a dazzling folk-infused rumpus, delicate yet acidic.
All these pieces are performed with total assurance by members of the London Symphony Orchestra. This commendable release is a welcome introduction to a terrific new wave of composing talent.