WORKS: Music on the Floor; Four Proverbs; Monday; Tuesday
PERFORMER: Catherine Bott (soprano)London Sinfonietta/Lothar Zagrosek; Argo Band/Michael Torke
CATALOGUE NO: 443 528-2 DDD
In record industry terms, Michael Torke and his music make a good, marketable package. The works are well-made, post-modern confections, acutely scored and leavening their rhythmic trickery with just enough melodic invention to keep the listeners happy, while Torke’s own plain-man’s sleevenotes help to reinforce the idea of these pieces as contemporary music without tears or extravagant intellectual demands.
The mixture on the latest Argo compilation is much as before. Days of the week seem to have replaced colours as Torke’s favourite titles: Monday and Tuesday share the same basic musical material but approach from differing perspectives. These 12-minute works frame the three-movement Music on the Floor, which, as Torke unashamedly confesses, is put together from shards of material left over from other works.
The Four Proverbs, sung with cool purity by Catherine Bott, are musically more intriguing, setting short Biblical texts to simple melodic phrases and then deconstructing the tunes and their words as if they were any other kind of musical material, before letting them regain their identities at the end. Each piece is short and telling, and the sounds are engagingly attractive. Torke has become an expert at giving his audience just the right amount of work to do. Andrew Clements