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Rory BOYLE (b.1961)
A Box of Chatter
Fluting [4:22]
Burble [7:24]
Intermezzo [7:05]
Reed Talk [6:34]
Touch [6:06]
Elegy [8:01]
A Box of Chatter:
Gossip [2:39]
The Pub Bore [3:10]
Whispering Sweet Nothings [3:29]
Your Call is Important to us [2:43]
Flutes en Route, Fraser Langton, Calum Robertson (clarinets), David Hubbard (bassoon), Scott Mitchell (piano), Yvonne Paterson (flute), George Talmuch (oboe, Aurea String Quartet, Illuminati Wind Quartet
rec. Royal Conservatoire, 2013
NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6224 [51:53]

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, from its base in Glasgow, has been issuing lately a series of interesting and well-made recordings featuring performances by its students and staff, often in collaboration with other musicians. This one is a disc of chamber music by the Ayr-born composer Rory Boyle.
 
Now in his sixties, Boyle is a composer of enormously wide experience and achievement, winner of the BBC Scottish Composers’ Prize while still a student, and twice recipient of Royal Philharmonic prizes. What comes over in this disc of music written chiefly for woodwind is, firstly, his ability to draw new sounds from instruments - for example, the special fingerings employed in Burble for clarinet and Intermezzo for bassoon - without distorting their essential nature; and secondly, his engaging wit and sense of humour.
The first six tracks feature specific instruments - a quartet of flutes, a solo clarinet, bassoon with piano, clarinet duet, solo flute and oboe with string quartet. In these he sets out, as it were, his credentials as a writer with a special understanding of woodwind instruments; I see he studied the clarinet at college.
 
The star attraction on this disc is the slender bur brilliant suite entitled 'A Box of Chatter'. It is for woodwind quartet - one of each principal woodwind instrument, plus piccolo and cor anglais - and is in four movements. The first pays attention to the trivial as well as the malicious nature of 'Gossip', its title. Then we have 'The Pub Bore', personified by the cor anglais. Boyle apologises to all players of the instrument in his notes. I'm sure there's no danger of type-casting.
 
The third is a remarkably economic and disciplined piece describing 'Whispering Sweet Nothings'. The final movement is a tour de force, and well worth waiting for. Entitled 'Your Call is Important to Us', it evokes those infuriating phone calls to institutions - utilities companies and “Help” Lines come to mind - where uncomprehending 'customer service' staff alternate with blasts of unsolicited music - here represented by - what else - bleeding chunks of The Four Seasons. The ending vividly suggests the dialling-tone after the phone has been slammed down in frustration - brilliant.
 
Gwyn Parry-Jones 

See also review by Gary Higginson


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