Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Dream Carousels; Igoruchki; Quartet of Beasts; Six of the Bestiary; Towards Asavari.

RNCM Wind Orchestra/Timothy Reynish and New Ensemble/Clark Rundell with Peter Lawson (piano) & John Turner (recorder)
NMC D068 [78 mins] (PGW)

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

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