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Weave Records


Rocking Horses
ff [1:40]
Big End [10:40]
Matthew KING
Schumann in Three Pieces [10:57 + 8:42 + 10:30]
City [7:15]

Avenue A Ensemble/Anthony Weedon (conductor)
rec. October 2006, February 2007, Konk Studios and QEBS Studio, London. DDD
WEAVE WVR002 [49:46] 


Experience Classicsonline

Avenue A Ensemble is a contemporary music group which was formed in 1999 to commission and perform new works. It includes several composers in its line-up and has an instrumental combination including saxophones, violin, trumpet, keyboards, percussion and guitars. This delivers a more jazz-based sound than the usual classical ensemble. The group includes several top-notch performers and the overall sound has its own electrifying identity.

Artistic Director Tim Adnitt’s opening track ff is a unison line, which instantly brought to mind the music of Frank Zappa and Django Bates. This is short but convincing and serves as an excellent introduction to Avenue A Ensemble’s sound. 

Robert Broadley’s Big End is a somewhat longer work. It begins with a strong rhythmic groove, which transports us into a sleazy jazz club atmosphere. Solos from individual instruments emerge and the music gradually brings in elements of contemporary art music, while retaining the obvious influence of jazz and a hint of film music. This is an extraordinary piece which has massive appeal; Broadley takes different musical styles and fuses them to create something entirely new and instantly likeable. Here is a composer with considerable talent given free rein to work with some excellent musicians, and the result is impressive. 

Schumann in Three Pieces is a set of works by Matthew King which are more laid-back and romantic in style than the previous items on the disc. Quotes from and allusions to Robert Schumann’s music infiltrate these pieces in a pleasing fusion of old and new. The first of these pieces, Ash on the Ground features sustained melodic lines against a rhythmic background. Love in a Life features the soprano voice of Clare Pressland in an expressive slower-paced movement. This is rich and sumptuous, with some spine-tingling moments. Night Phantoms & Rocking Horses opens with slow moving chords, which build up tension before the drum kit entry. The music gives way to tantalizing rhythms, before a complete change of character into an almost cartoon-like melody. Almost before we are aware of it, the mood changes again. The Schumann quotes again pervade this sectional work, which is cleverly constructed and brilliantly played. 

The final track on the disc is City by Andrew McBirnie, which returns to the mood of the opening tracks. Strongly rhythmic, the music makes use of unison lines and bursts of sound in an energetic depiction of metropolitan life. The music hints, in places, at organized chaos, as the lines flow independently of each other, and then come together to further develop unity of purpose. This is very different in style from other works of McBirnie’s that I have heard - and performed - but no less convincing. 

This is an excellent disc of works which showcase some exciting compositional talents. The works are all given superb performances by this inspiring ensemble and production standards are also very high. One word sums up the whole package: quality.

Carla Rees



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