The earlier works in this selection were both written
in 1981 but are very different in many respects. Helter-Skelter,
for a Feldmanesque ensemble of flute, vibraphone and piano, moves fairly
slowly throughout, the three instrumental lines following each its independent
course with little if any synchronisation, hence the title. The piece
however is fairly contemplative. In total contrast, The Juniper
Tree for soprano and four players (flutes [1 player], oboes
[1 player], percussion and piano) is based on one of Grimm’s "goriest"
tales. The music here is relentlessly violent, almost frantically so,
and terribly demanding. A quite impressive achievement in its own right,
though it is a difficult piece to come to terms with.
...from swerve of shore to bend of bay...
(1985) for small mixed ensemble is yet another contemporary work of
art inspired by Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’. Again the music is very active
and tests the performers to the extreme. (It was composed for the Fires
of London.) The piece is overflowing with relentless activity suggesting
furiously overlapping waves.
All the other pieces are for a solo instrument, either
piano or guitar. Flow Form (1987) for piano, which gives
this release its collective title, is a beautiful study in fluid piano
textures, whereas for piano 2 and for piano 3,
both from 1997, are to a certain extent more experimental, i.e. from
the formal point of view, and have much in common with for guitar
1 (1998). These pieces have much sparser textures with fairly
long pauses between the various episodes, but are remarkably written
for the instruments. Finnissys fifty (1996) is a short
homage to Michael Finnissy on his fiftieth birthday, and is comparatively
This release is a typical METIER product offering a
fairly comprehensive composer’s portrait performed by dedicated players
who have long been involved in Emsley’s demanding but thought-provoking
music. No light easy stuff, but well worth the effort.