Dream Carousels; Igoruchki; Quartet of Beasts; Six of the Bestiary; Towards
RNCM Wind Orchestra/Timothy
Reynish and New Ensemble/Clark Rundell with Peter Lawson (piano) & John
NMC D068 [78 mins]
Contemporary composers of the older generations can become temporarily
overlooked, however accomplished and original they may be. Anthony
Gilbert (b. 1934) is one such, revered as a teacher for his open-minded
thinking by Simon Holt (whose NMC portrait CD has
been promoted in tandem with this one), and eulogised in the liner notes
in An Appreciation by fellow composer David Lumsdaine. This emphasises his
avoidance of cliché, originality of musical language and beauty of
sound - bold, quirky, focussed, 'it's always on the edge'.
This impressive Manchester based collection of performances, with RCNM students
keeping well up with their professional colleagues, gives a good survey of
his music from 1978-1992. Towards Asavari is the earliest & perhaps
the least listener friendly, a fairly tough four movement piece for chamber
orchestra with piano, based on an Indian raga, but not in an Indian idiom.
Jorge Borges's beasts inspired 10 light, fanciful pieces here for quartets
of wind with piano, and saxophones, respectively. Dream Carousels
was written in Australia for Timothy Reynish, a slow piece followed by a
scherzando and a toccata, given first by these present players in 1989 and
recorded in the RNCM in 1998. Igoruchki is a little solo recorder
concerto, Gilbert's tribute to Stravinsky's Symphonies of Wind
Instruments, in five short playful movements. The moto perpetuo
finale has the bass recorder demonstrating rapid multiphonics.
Most of the music has strong literary promptings for its titles and they
may have played their part in actual composition, who can be sure? There
is an abundance of purely musical humour and fantasy, making for an excellent
long listen, nearly 80 minutes, and with NMC's production standards, a good
bargain too. Gilbert manages all his disparate instrumental combinations
with easy aplomb and there are many bright sounds to relish. Hard to describe;
hear it instead!
Peter Grahame Woolf