The Centre is Everywhere
Edmund Finnis: The Centre is Everywhere; Philip Glass: Company; Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night)
Bedroom Community HVALUR38 50:09 mins
It seems fitting that the debut full-length album of an ensemble dedicated to collaboration should be titled The Centre is Everywhere. In fact it’s taken from the haunting, iridescent work by Edmund Finnis at the centre of this compelling release, celebrating five years of Manchester Collective.
Commissioned by the ensemble and scored for 12 string players, the piece has an ageless, ancient-yet-modern quality: like a shimmering ghost of Lawes’s viol consorts, a fine latticework of line and colour is viewed through a kaleidoscope of grainy harmonies and whistling white noise. The twin push-pull of emotion and texture encapsulates a performance ethos that extends to the contrasting works either side, uniting them across time and supposed aesthetic distance.
Opening the album, the title of Glass’s String Quartet No. 2 Company also feels apt. Robustly yet wispily played in its larger ensemble version, its origins as fragments written for a Beckett stage adaptation seem pertinent to the Collective’s own fondness for multiple art-forms. Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night seems even less than usually earthbound in light of it and the Finnis. Here the colours may be rooted in tactile, post-Tristan binaries of male-female love but the shifting perspectives are pure other-world.