Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Carl Vine Inner World (1994) for cello and pre-recorded CD
Peter Sculthorpe Threnody (1992) Requiem (1979)
John Keane ConFusion (2000) for multi-tracked cello and voice
Colin Matthews Palinode (1992)
Ian Blake Verklärter Bungalow (2000) for multi-tracked cello and voice
Lowri Blake (cello and voice)
Lowri Records LOWRI 2003 [60 mins]

Lowri Blake is a musician of the new century, blurring the distinction between 'classical' and other genres, and releasing a growing discography of discerning repertoire, with audio clips on line. On her own website she tells us:

"Lowri Blake has a dual career as a solo cellist and as a singer of contemporary music and cabaret. Since her televised concerto debut with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Lowri has broadcast over one hundred recitals and concertos on BBC Radio and Television… She has appeared with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in performances of the Elgar Concerto, conducted by Matthias Bamert, at the Royal Festival Hall in London…. Lowri is professor of cello at Trinity College of Music and at the Royal College of Music, London and gives masterclasses nationwide and abroad."

A splendid cellist who demonstrates her love (and that of composers Peter Sculthorpe and Colin Matthews) for the richness of its essential voice, her singing voice is less eloquent and individual; I guess it would make a better impression in live appearances. That she is a good communicator with an audience was evident at the Centenary Concert of the Wallace Collection and I have enjoyed reviewing her previous CDs, which are economically and distinctively packaged, if not too easy to handle and extract from their sleeves. She should also consider those whose eyesight is not of the sharpest; on this one, the dark red background infiltrates the small white print and makes it appear pink.

The new CD was made in collaboration with her brother Ian, 'an all-round musician' who lives in Australia, whose own piece here starts with 'sounds of a Canberran summer night'. Carl Vine's Inner World with pre-recorded CD is particularly striking, surrounding the live cello with electronically transformed cello sounds. John Keane comes from the world of film and TV and is very much a 'cross'over' composition, with a deliberately confusing rhythmic patterning to hold the listener's attention.

In the middle there are some 24 minutes of cello solo by Peter Sculthorpe and Colin Matthews, both of whom eschew the fashionable extended sound palettes favoured by many contemporary composers. In his Requiem Sculthorpe draws on 'the coolness and objectivity of plainchant', contrasting that with 'the warmth and passion of my own kind of music'. Matthews enriches his sequence of variations by requiring double stopping almost throughout. In both the cello 'sings', predominantly in its lower registers. I thought it a mistake to place them in sequence together - indeed, they are better heard in separate listening sessions.

Recommended, and I look forward to Lowri Blake's soon forthcoming release Visible Bass Line, an 'unusual blend of classic, cabaret and contemporary' with Peter Buckoke (double bass).

Peter Grahame Woolf

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