Paul ARCHBOLD; Fabrice FITCH
WIND-UP Chamber Music
Peter Hill (piano) Hugh Webb
(harp) Bridget Carey (viola) Francesca Hanley (flute) Barry Webb (trombone)
with Julian Warburton (percussion). Ensemble Exposé/Roger Redgate
Metier MSV CD92042
These recordings dating from autumn 1999 bring together two composers who
are lecturers at Durham University. Archbold is represented by pas de
deux to Bridget Carey, composed for their wedding day, three tales
Of Crossed Destinies for harp, and Disenchanted Voices for flute,
viola & harp, a useful companion piece for the Debussy sonata.
Fitch has a book on
Ockeghem and has studied with Fernyhough.
The CD takes its overall title from his Wind-Up cycle of piano pieces
which explore 'mechanistic conceits'. It is surprising that the notes about
musical mechanisms and their fascination do not mention Birtwistle, our chief
exponent of this area of interest, and his Harrison's Clocks
Circus SC004]. This theme is ostensibly a link between the
piano pieces which begin and end this programme. Archbold's Etudes en
mouvementi (1992-5), five 'studies in shaping the perceived flow of time',
are accessible and expressive, more than obviously mechanistic on first hearing
(e.g. the third is 'a six part canon concealed in a torrent of notes').
Fitch's three piano pieces share the same point of contact, whilst inhabiting
very different sound-worlds. He likes jagged, stacccato chords. The third,
See-saw (after Brahms), parodies a Brahms intermezzo. .Fitch's
Wind-Up was premiered by Peter Hill, the expert pianist here, in Durham,
March 2000. His Structures en Bronze, recorded in Huddersfield by
two musicians from that University, has trombone & percussion going from
confrontation to symbiosis, with the music increasingly dominated by glissandi.
Finally, Filigranes, scored for five members of Exposé,
is said to allude to master illuminators of the fifteenth century, but the
connection eludes me, other than in its brief Commentary in the form of
a prologue for flute, recorder, oboe, viola and cello, also included
- a straight transcription of an Ars subtilio ballade and a sheer
Fitch's music is more abrasive and less listener friendly than Archbold's,
but both are worth persevering with. All the performances sound fine, though
few would be in a position to judge authoritatively, and the back-up information
is well written. A good CD for the tough-minded.
Peter Grahame Woolf